Changing Gender Norms and Marriage Dynamics in the United States

Léa Pessin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


Using a regional measure of gender norms from the General Social Surveys and marital histories from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics, this study explored how gender norms were associated with women's marriage dynamics between 1968 and 2012. Results suggested that a higher prevalence of egalitarian gender norms predicted a decline in marriage formation. This decline was, however, only true for women without a college degree. For college-educated women, the association between gender norms and marriage formation became positive when gender egalitarianism prevailed. The findings also revealed an inverted U-shaped relationship between gender norms and divorce: An initial increase in divorce was observed when gender norms were predominantly traditional. The association, however, reversed as gender norms became egalitarian. No differences by education were found for divorce. The findings partially support the gender revolution framework but also highlight greater barriers to marriage for low-educated women as societies embrace gender equality.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)25-41
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Marriage and Family
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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