Published online by Cambridge University Press: 13 March 2015
I examine the impact of the Great Depression on marriage outcomes and find that marriage rates and local economic conditions are positively correlated. Specifically, poor labor market opportunities for men negatively impact marriage. Conversely, there is some evidence that poor female labor markets actually increase marriage in the period. While the Great Depression did lower marriage rates, the effect was not long lasting: marriages were delayed, not denied. The primary long-run effect of the downturn on marriage was stability: Marriages formed in tough economic times were more likely to survive compared to matches made in more prosperous time periods.
The author would like to acknowledge the invaluable guidance of Naomi Lamoreaux, Dora Costa, and Leah Boustan during the initial development of this project. The author is indebted to Paul Rhode and two anonymous referees who provided valuable feedback that improved the article immeasurably. Finally, the project would not have been possible without the data contributions of Price Fishback.