Time and Life

by Wendy Wang

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The link between a college education and a lasting marriage

Originally posted on Pew Research Center “Fact Tank.”

ft_15-12-4-college-marriage2About half of first marriages in the U.S. are likely to survive at least 20 years, according to government estimates. But for one demographic group, marriages last longer than most: College-educated women have an almost eight-in-ten chance of still being married after two decades.

Researchers at the National Center for Health Statistics estimate that 78% of college-educated women who married for the first time between 2006 and 2010 could expect their marriages to last at least 20 years. But among women who have a high school education or less, the share is only 40%.

The probability of a lasting first marriage is derived from marital history data from the National Survey of Family Growth, a nationally representative sample of women and men who were ages 15 to 44 between 2006 and 2010. Estimates are based on an approach similar to that used to determine life expectancy and assume that marriage patterns in the future will follow patterns today. The findings refer only to opposite-sex marriages; the sample size was too small to analyze same-sex marriages.

Reasons for marriages ending include divorce and separation. Marriages that ended in death were not included in the analysis. One limitation of the survey was that it did not include adults over age 44 and therefore does not take into account long-term marriages that started later in life. And adults with advanced degrees were not separately analyzed because of the small sample size.

The findings are yet further evidence of the marriage gap in the U.S. along educational lines. College-educated adults are more likely to be married than less-educated adults. Among those who were ages 25 and older in 2014, 65% of those with a bachelor’s degree or more were married, compared with 53% of adults with less education, according to a Pew Research Center analysis.

While the research does not address reasons these marriages last longer, we do know college-educated adults marry later in life and are more financially secure than less-educated adults.

While more-educated women have the highest chances for a long-term marriage, college-educated men also stand out. Roughly two-thirds (65%) of men with a bachelor’s degree could expect that, if they marry, their first marriage will last 20 years or longer, compared with 50% of men with a high school diploma or less. In addition, men with a higher level of education are more likely to get married in the first place when compared with less-educated men.

ft_15-12-03-race_-marriageThere also are distinctive patterns in marriage longevity by race and ethnicity. Some of these differences could be related toeducational differences among adults with different racial or ethnic backgrounds. Asian women, who are among the most educated, are more likely than any other racial or ethnic group to have a long-term marriage. For Asian women who were married for the first time between 2006 and 2010, the chance that they may celebrate their 20-year wedding anniversary is nearly 70%. By contrast, about half of Hispanic and white women may see their marriages last that long. And for black women, the chance is 37%.

Among men, Hispanics have the highest likelihood of being in a long-lasting marriage (findings about Asian men are not included because the sample size was too small to be nationally representative). For those who married for the first time between 2006 and 2010, about six-in-ten Hispanic men (62%) could expect their marriages to last at least 20 years, compared with 54% of white men and 53% of black men.

ft_15-12-03-cohabitation-marriageAnother factor linked to long-lasting marriages is whether couples live together before tying the knot. In short, couples who lived together before getting married had a slightly lower chance of having a long-term marriage than those who did not live together.

Among women who did not live with their spouse before getting married for the first time, 57% can expect to still be married after 20 years. For women who lived with their spouse before marriage, the probability of being married for at least 20 years is somewhat lower – 46%. Whether the couple was engaged when they lived together didn’t make a difference in women’s chances of long-lasting marriages.

For men, the patterns are slightly different. In this case, it matters whether men are engaged to a partner they lived with before getting married. Men who lived with their future spouse without being engaged had a slightly lower chance of having a long-term marriage (49%) than those who were engaged first (57%). Men who didn’t live with their partner before getting married had a 60% chance of celebrating their 20th anniversary.

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The best and worst cities for women looking to marry

Originally posted on Pew Research Center “Fact Tank.”

Young adults who would like to get married naturally start looking for love in the community they live in, but in some parts of the country, the odds may be against them. A new Pew Research Center analysis finds pronounced differences in the ratio between men and women living in the largest U.S. metro areas, especially when it comes to singles who have an attractive characteristic: a job.

Our poll published earlier found that half (53%) of never-married Americans would like Top 10 Large Metro Areas With Highest Ratios of Employed Single Young Men to Single Young Womento eventually tie the knot. And among never-married women interested in marriage, 78% said that it is “very important” to them that a potential spouse has a steady job (only 46% of never-married men said the same). Looking at the most recently available census data, we explored the demographics of the “marriage market” based on what women said they want in a spouse.

Nationwide, single young men outnumber their female counterparts. The overall male-to-female ratio is 115:100 among single adults ages 25 to 34. But when we limit the young men to those who are currently employed, the ratio falls to 84 employed single men for every 100 single women. (We count both young adults who have never been married and those who have been previously married as single or unmarried.)

So, which large metro areas have the best “marriage market”? For women seeking a male partner with a job, our analysis found that San Jose, Calif., tops the list among large metro areas, with 114 single employed men for every 100 single women. Among all single young adults, there were 141 men for every 100 women in this area. Over half (57%) of young adults ages 25 to 34 in the metro area, which includes Sunnyvale and Santa Clara, were single in 2012.

(Our Mapping the Marriage Market interactive displays the results of all available U.S. metro areas, as well as the reverse ratios of employed women to men and all men to all women.)

Also high on the list is the Denver area. The male-to-female ratio is 121:100, and the ratio of employed men to all women is 101:100. Some 56% of young adults in this area were unmarried in 2012.

10 Large Metro Areas With Lowest Ratios of Employed Single Young Men to Single Young WomenBut even in these top metro areas, young women may find it difficult to find a young single man with a job. The Orlando, Fla., metro area has a sex ratio of 128 single young men to 100 single young women, but the ratio of employed young single men to all young women is only 90:100. The ratios are similar in Pittsburgh and Los Angeles.

A smaller pool of employed men may not be good news for young women who are looking for a man with a job, but it could be good news for young single men. At the opposite end of the demographic split, we calculated a list of the largest metro areas that have the lowest number of employed young men for every 100 young women.

Memphis, Tenn., tops this list: only 59 employed young single men for every 100 young single women. Some other metro areas in the bottom ten include Jacksonville, Fla.; Detroit, Mich.; Charlotte, N.C.; and Philadelphia, Pa.

Note: The metro ranking is based on 43 metro areas with more than 100,000 unmarried young adults ages 25 to 34. You can find a more complete list of metropolitan areas on our map.

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On weekends, dads find more time for leisure than moms

My latest contribution to the Pew Research Center’s blog- Fact tank.

It’s well documented that mothers do more child care and housework than fathers. But what about on the weekend, when both parents theoretically have more time for leisure?

Our new analysis of time use data shows a striking change of pace for moms and dads on Saturday and Sunday. Mothers take a little break from child care (but not housework) on the weekend. Fathers pick up more housework, and the amount of time they devote to child care is a lot closer to mothers’ on the weekend.

But when it comes to leisure, fathers take full advantage of the weekends. The “leisure gap” between fathers and mothers, which is quite modest on the weekdays, grows to a one hour difference on Saturdays and Sundays.

On average, dads spend half the amount of time on child care that mothers do. But this is true only during the week. With moms scaling back their time for child care, fathers’ child-care time is about three quarters that of mothers’ (73%) on the weekends. On weekends, fathers step it up with housework, doing nearly an hour more than they do during the week. While fathers spend less than half as much time as mothers (46%) on the weekdays doing housework, they spend 71% the amount of time of mothers on the weekends.

Overall, on the weekends, mothers scale back their time spent on child care by 29%, compared with the amount of time spent during a week day (1.5 hours per day vs. 2.1 hours). This is consistent with earlier research by Sayer, Bianchi, and Robinson.

recent Pew Research Center report found that stay-at-home mothers spend more time on child care and housework than working mothers. But the gap in child care is much narrower on the weekends than during the week, and working moms spend almost the same amount of time on housework as stay-at-home moms do on the weekends.

Working moms tend to use the weekend to clean up the house: They increase their time spent on this activity by about one hour during the weekends. At the same time, stay-at-home moms take a little break from household chores on weekends. And all mothers, whether working outside the home or not, have more time for leisure activities during weekends.

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The “leisure gap” between mothers and fathers

In America, fathers, on average, have about three hours more leisure time per week than mothers. This “leisure gap” has been consistent at least over the past decade. What are dads doing with their extra time? For the most part, they’re watching TV, according to new Pew Research Center analysis of data from the government-sponsored American Time Use Survey (ATUS).

leisure 1There is a large body of research devoted to studying leisure time. Some studies like those of time-use experts John P. Robinson and Geoffrey Godbey, use a broader measure of “free time,” which is the time left over after subtracting all hours spent in paid work, housework, childcare, and personal care.  Other studies, such as one by Mark Aguiar and Erik Hurst in 2007, focus more narrowly on the time explicitly devoted to recreational activities or relaxation.

Using the narrower definition of leisure, our analysis of the 2010 ATUS data finds that fathers with children under age 18 in the household on average spend about three hours more leisure time than mothers (27.5 hours per week vs. 24.5 hours per week).

Most of the gap is found in front of the television set. Fathers spend 2.8 hours more each week than mothers watching TV or using other media. Fathers also spend more time playing sports or exercising than do mothers, while mothers spend more of their leisure time in social activities such as attending or hosting parties.

While there are gender differences in these different types of leisure activities, TV watching is a primary leisure activity for both parents. Fathers spend about 64% of their leisure time watching TV or using other media. For mothers, the share is 60%.

leisure 2The ATUS not only asks people how they spend their time but also how they feel while they’re engaged in particular activities. Our analysis of this data shows that mothers find their leisure time to be more meaningful than do fathers. Mothers rate 63% of their leisure activities “very meaningful,” while fathers give a similar rating to about 52% of their leisure activities. Meanwhile, mothers feel more exhausted than fathers during their leisure time, and their stress level associated with leisure time is higher as well.

The fact that mothers feel more stressed and tired than fathers even during their leisure may have to do with the way they experience their time. Mothers’ free time is often interrupted, which may make it hard for them to relax, according to a study by sociologist Suzanne Bianchi and others. Moreover, a study by Shira Offer and Barbara Schneider found that mothers tend to spend more time than fathers in multitasking, and the additional hours spent on multitasking are mainly related to time spent on housework and child care.

For more information on how the time use data is collected and the classification of leisure activities, see our report on modern parenthood and parents’ feelings about their time.

This post was originally published on Pew Research Center’s blog- Fact tank.

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How do single fathers balance work and family?

Single father1Single fathers are on the rise. Today, 8% of U.S. households with children under the age of 18 are headed by single fathers, up from 1% in 1960.

By definition, single fathers are not currently married and do not have a partner to help in raising their children in the household. In reality, single fathers often times are not “single”: about 41% of them live with an unmarried partner (the partner may or may not be mother of their children). If you are curious about the share for single mothers: about 16% of single mothers live with a cohabiting partner.

In this post I focus on the “real” single fathers who are not living with a partner and are the only parent in the household. I look at their time allocation at work and at home, and compare their time with that of married and cohabiting fathers, as well as that of single mothers. Most numbers are drawn from my analysis in an earlier report about modern parenthood.

Being mom and dad at the same time, one may think that single fathers carry a heavier workload than married fathers. However, the time diary data suggest that this is not the case.

Compared with fathers who are married or living with a partner, single fathers spend more time doing housework (averaging 10 hours per week), but less time in childcare (6 hours per week). Single fathers’ time in paid work is less than that of married fathers, but more than that of cohabiting fathers.

If we add up the time in all three types of work (paid work, childcare, and housework), single fathers’ total workload per week is about 50 hours, which is higher than that of cohabiting fathers (48 hours), but lower than that of married fathers (55 hours).

Compared with married fathers, single fathers are less likely to have a college education (35% vs. 15%), and their employment rate is lower as well (89% vs.78%). Single fathers tend to have somewhat older children than do married or cohabiting fathers, which may help to explain why single fathers’ childcare time is slightly less than that of fathers in other family types.

Single father2

Single fathers work as hard as single mothers, judging by their total workload. Each group spend an average of 50 hours per week in all work-related  activities including paid work, childcare and housework, although their time allocation is somewhat different. Single fathers spend longer time in paid work than do single mothers (34 hours vs. 24 hours per week), but their time in childcare is half of what single mothers engage in (6 hours vs. 12 hours per week), and their housework time is lower as well (10 hours vs. 14 hours per week).

Still, single fathers manage to have four more hours of  leisure time per week than do single mothers.

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Mothers and work: What’s ‘ideal’ ?

Originally posted at Pew Research Center-Fact Tank blog.


For most American mothers, part-time work would be their ideal work situation, preferred over full-time work or not working at all outside the home. However, there are sharp differences among views of mothers based on factors such as economic circumstances and marital status.

At Pew Research, we have tracked people’s work preferences since 1997. The question we ask is: “Considering everything, what would be the ideal situation for you — working full time, working part time, or not working at all outside the home?”

Working part time has consistently been the top choice for women with at least one child under the age of 18 in the three years that the question was asked. Nearly half of mothers (47%) in 2012 said that their ideal situation would be to work part time. The share was 50% in 2007 and 44% in 1997.

Among mothers who currently work full time, many would rather not. About 44% say that working part time would be their ideal situation, 9% say not working outside the home would be ideal. Only about half (46%) of full-time working mothers consider their current situation ideal.  

On the other hand, mothers who are not employed also think working part time is appealing. Fully four-in-ten say part-time work would be the ideal situation for them, 22% think working full time would be ideal, and 36% are happy with their current situation.

The way mothers view their ideal work situation has fluctuated somewhat over time, and these changing preferences likely reflect changing economic circumstances. The share of mothers preferring full-time work increased sharply between 2007 and 2012 (from 20% to 32%) – an intervening period that included a severe economic recession.

Mothers at the lower end of the income scale are much more likely than more affluent mothers to say that working full time would be the ideal situation for them. In 2012, some 40% of mothers with annual family incomes of less than $50,000 said full-time work would be ideal, compared with 25% of mothers with incomes of $50,000 or higher.

The 2012 Pew Research survey also found that single mothers were much more likely than married mothers to say their ideal situation would be to work full time. Single mothers, often the sole provider in their household, have a much lower family income than married mothers, on average. It’s not surprising, then, that among unmarried mothers, nearly half (49%) say that their ideal situation would be to work full time, while 36% say part-time work would be ideal. In contrast, married mothers see part-time work (53%) as more desirable than full-time work (23%). The gap in views between married and unmarried mothers has widened significantly since 2007, when these two groups of mothers had more similar views about their ideal work situation.

What mothers see as ideal for themselves is similar to what the general public thinks about women with young children. In the same 2012 survey, we asked the public about the ideal situation for women with young children. Nearly half (47%) of the public said that working part time is the ideal situation for women with young children, 33% said not working outside the home is ideal, and another 12% said working full time would be ideal.

However, when asked about what is the ideal situation for men with young children, a vast majority of the public (70%) says that full time work is ideal. One-in-five think working part time is ideal for fathers, and only 4% say it is ideal for fathers of young children not to work outside the home.

More generally, the public remains conflicted about the impact that women working for pay outside the home has on family life. Most say there are clear economic benefits for families, yet most also say the increasing number of women working for pay has made it harder for parents to raise children. And many say this has made it harder for marriages to succeed.

With all the recent discussion about opting out, leaning in and breadwinner moms, these data serve as an important reminder that many factors go into a mother’s decision about whether and how much to work for pay outside the home.