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School Characteristics and Marriage Timing

R03HD057357, 2008-2010, Funded by the National Institute for Child Health and Human Development (NICHD)

One of the most notable marriage trends in rapidly changing societies is the trend toward marriages that are delayed relative to historical norms. Education is frequently invoked as a primary cause behind these trends. In addition, some studies have examined the context of educational opportunity by measuring the presence of schools in a community and how far away these schools are from focal individuals. While these studies offer useful insight into the role of educational institutions in a community, they have tended to overlook important variation in the schools’ institutional characteristics. These limitations in prior studies prevent the testing of theoretical issues of how schools are related to individuals’ family formation. This is an important omission because different characteristics of schools are likely to be associated with different mechanisms and consequences for individuals’ marriage timing. This proposed project has three specific research goals. 1) To examine the relationship between multiple dimensions of school characteristics and marriage timing. Although prior research has documented how the mere presence of schools in a community is associated with a variety of individual behaviors, few studies have tested how distinct features of schools are related to individuals’ family formation. 2) To test specific mechanisms linking school characteristics to marriage timing. As individuals participate in the schooling system, other activities in their life courses in addition to marriage are also likely to change. Distinct school characteristics implicate individual mechanisms involving processes including role incompatibility, human capital attainment, nonfamily work experiences, nonfamily living, and media consumption. 3) To examine gender differences in the relationships between school characteristics and marriage timing. Prior work has shown that the educational experience can have different consequences for men and women’s marriage timing, with some experiences accelerating marriage for one sex but delaying marriage for the other. There is good reason to expect that school characteristics may also be differentially related to the timing of men and women’s marriages. The setting for this proposed project is the Chitwan Valley in Nepal. The project is able to take advantage of detailed documentation of a setting in which the spread of mass education has taken place within the lifetimes of current residents.

CePoD Involvement: Scott Yabiku (Principal Investigator)

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T. Denny Sanford School of Social and Family Dynamics
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