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Love in the Time of the Depression: The Effect of Economic Conditions on Marriage in the Great Depression

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  13 March 2015

Matthew J. Hill*
Affiliation:
Adjunct Economist, RAND Corporation, 1776 Main St. Santa Monica, CA 90401. E-mail: emailofmatthill@gmail.com.

Abstract

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.

Type
Articles
Copyright
Copyright © The Economic History Association 2015 

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Footnotes

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.

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