Money, Marriage, and Children: Testing the Financial Expectations and Family Formation Theory

Journal Article (Academic article)

Using data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Survey (N = 2,954), a birth cohort study, this work examines how gains in earnings and income are associated with marriage and subsequent childbearing for low-income couples. Using change models, results indicate that positive changes in earnings, controlling for baseline levels of earnings, were associated with greater odds of marriage. Cohabiting couples who became poor were associated with a 50% decrease in marriage likelihood. Neither earnings nor income was affiliated with additional fertility. Results are consistent with the Family Formation and Financial Expectations theory, which posits that economics act as a barrier to marriage, but does not act as a barrier to subsequent childbearing.

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Gibson Davis, CM

Published Date

  • 2009

Published In

  • Journal of Marriage and Family

Volume / Issue

  • 71 /

Start / End Page

  • 146 - 161