Limited Partner

Kevin Lewis

April 13, 2024

Growing Uncertainty in Marriage Expectations among U.S. Youth
Joanna Pepin & Philip Cohen
Socius: Sociological Research for a Dynamic World, March 2024

Marriage rates are falling in the United States. The authors ask whether today’s young adults are likely to continue this trend. Using Monitoring the Future Public-Use Cross-Sectional Datasets (1976–2022), this visualization presents U.S. 12th graders’ marriage expectations. It shows declining optimism that they will be “very good” spouses and declining expectations that they will eventually marry. Both trends are prominent in the last 10 years of the survey, and both are more dramatic among young women than among young men. If these trends hold, it may foretell further declines in marriage rates in the coming years.

The impact of HIV/AIDS on marriage in the early years of the epidemic
Hasan Shahid
Health Economics, forthcoming

The advent of the HIV/AIDS crisis transformed the desirability of committed heterosexual relationships. This paper employs a difference-in-differences approach to investigate the impact of the HIV/AIDS crisis on marriage rates. By using HIV/AIDS death rates as a proxy for HIV incidence, the study exploits county-level variations in HIV/AIDS mortality and finds that counties with higher HIV/AIDS death rates experienced larger gains in marriage rates in the early years of the epidemic. Estimates suggest that the virus increased marriage rates by approximately 0.9% in the early years of the virus (1981–1988).

Love as a Low Priority: Gender and Relationship History Differences in Singles’ Value of Romantic Partnership
Hannah Tessler, Meera Choi & Grace Kao
Social Currents, forthcoming

This study uses original data from the Dynamics of Social Life During COVID-19 Survey (DSL-COVID) to examine the importance of romantic partnership among heterosexual single adults in the United States. We find that almost 40 percent of single adults report that having a long-term committed romantic relationship is “not at all important” to their lives. However, the importance of finding a romantic partner varies by gender and prior relationship experience. Compared to women with no prior romantic relationships, women who have been in a committed romantic relationship or have been married before are more likely to report having a romantic partner is not at all important. In contrast, men who have been in a committed romantic relationship are more likely to report that having a romantic partner is at least somewhat important compared to men with no relationship experience. Prior experience with romantic relationships is associated with lower value of romantic partnership for women, but a higher value of romantic partnership for men. These results have implications for union formation, as singles exhibit heterogeneous romantic relationship preferences. Future research on union formation should consider how singles value traditional romantic partnership and further explore how gender relates to dating and relationship decisions.

Robots, Marriageable Men, Family, and Fertility
Massimo Anelli, Osea Giuntella & Luca Stella
Journal of Human Resources, March 2024, Pages 443-469

This study examines how the exposure to robots and its heterogeneous effects on the labor market opportunities of men and women affected demographic behavior. We focus on the United States and find that in regions that were more exposed to robots, gender gaps in income and labor force participation declined, reducing the relative economic stature of men. Robot penetration also triggered an increase in both divorce and cohabitation and a decline -- albeit nonsignificant -- in the number of marriages. While there was no change in the overall fertility rate, marital fertility declined, and there was an increase in nonmarital births.

Alcohol Use and Mortality Among Older Couples in the United States: Evidence of Individual and Partner Effects
Kira Birditt et al.
The Gerontologist, February 2024

Research Design and Methods: The Health and Retirement Study (HRS) is a nationally representative sample of individuals and their partners (married/cohabiting) over age 50 in the United States, in which participants completed surveys every 2 years. Participants included 4,656 married/cohabiting different-sex couples (9,312 individuals) who completed at least 3 waves of the HRS from 1996 to 2016. Participants reported whether they drank alcohol at all in the last 3 months, and if so, the average amount they drank per week. Mortality data were from 2016.

Results: Analyses revealed concordant drinking spouses (both indicated they drank in the last 3 months) survived longer than discordant drinking spouses (1 partner drinks and the other does not) and concordant nondrinking spouses. Analysis of average drinks per week showed a quadratic association with mortality such that light drinking predicted better survival rates among individuals and their partners compared with abstaining and heavy drinking. Further, similar levels of drinking in terms of the amount of drinking were associated with greater survival, particularly among wives.


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