Credits and Credentials: An In-Depth Analysis of the Association between Educational Attainment and the Risk of Divorce

Kelly Raley, University of Texas at Austin
David McClendon, University of Texas at Austin
Ellyn Steidl, University of Texas

This study uses detailed transcript and self-report data on postsecondary experiences from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997 Cohort (NLYS97) to investigate the association between educational attainment and marital stability for men and women. Our preliminary results indicate that incremental educational progress is associated with greater marital stability for women, even when it does not result in a degree. This provides more support for a learning than a credentialism argument. Moreover, years enrolled is not associated with reduced risk of divorce, but credits earned is. This supports the idea that something about what is learned in the classroom might contribute to marital stability, either directly or indirectly through labor force outcomes or spousal characteristics. We conclude with a discussion of future plans.

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Presented in Session 116: Family Instability