Work, Earnings Potential, and Career Aspiration*

Arland Thornton, William G. Axinn and Yu Xie

in Marriage and Cohabitation

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print September 2007 | ISBN: 9780226798660
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226798684 | DOI:
Work, Earnings Potential, and Career Aspiration*

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This chapter examines the influence of work in the labor force on marriage and cohabitation. Like education, work can have both negative and positive effects on union formation. On the one hand, because successful careers often require substantial investments of time and energy early in the life course, they can compete with union-formation behavior. Thus, role conflict may preclude early union formation among individuals pursuing career ambitions. Empirical evidence indicates that the historical division of labor between women and men has influenced the preferences of women and men for partners, with women more than men emphasizing social status and economic prowess as an important trait in a spouse. One of the most-cited formulations of the relationship between economic resources and marriage is provided by Gary Becker's neoclassical economic theory of marriage.

Keywords: labor force; marriage; cohabitation; union formation; role conflict; social status; Gary Becker; economic theory; economic resources

Chapter.  6613 words. 

Subjects: Population and Demography

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