Occupational Uncertainty and the Transition to Coresidential Unions

Shannon E. Cavanagh, University of Texas at Austin
Monica Kirkpatrick Johnson, Washington State University
Giuseppina Valle Holway, University of Texas at Austin

Union formation behaviors in young adulthood are becoming less ordered in the US. Demographers have longed looked to work characteristics of young women and men to make sense of these changes. In line with research, we consider occupation aspirations—specifically, a lack of them—at age 16 to see if the roots of union formation behaviors are observable in adolescence. We also consider whether gender moderate this association. Using a sample drawn from the Youth Development Study (YDS), a randomly selected sample of 1,010 ninth graders in 1988 who were followed through 2011, we find that occupational uncertainty is linked with time to first union, with those without any clear idea about work in adolescence significantly less likely to transition into a coresidential union in adulthood, net of educational and marriage aspirations. Although men are slower to transition to coresidential unions than women, work uncertainty appear more consequential for women than men.

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 Presented in Session P1. Marriage, Unions, Families, and Households