I was rooting around the website of the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, looking for interesting data to analyze, and I ran across data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979 (NLSY79). According to the BLS:

The NLSY79 is a nationally representative sample of men and women who were ages 14 to 22 when they were first interviewed in 1979. Respondents were interviewed annually until 1994, and since then they have continued to be interviewed on a biennial basis. The NLSY79 collects detailed information on fertility, marital transitions, and employment in a format that allows one to determine the dating of the specific events.

The data I reviewed were collected through 2010, so the sample members ranged in age from 45-53. The focus of the data collected by the BLS, and which I reviewed, was marriage and divorce, and the data were broken down by ethnicity, age, gender, etc. I was particularly struck by the trends related to educational level.

First off, while there isn’t much separation between varying educational levels, the percentage of those ever marrying was slightly higher for those with higher educational levels.

What is particularly striking is the effect of education on whether a person experienced divorce.

Those with higher educational levels also wait until later in life to marry.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this.

  • Why do higher educational levels correlate with lower percentages of divorce?
  • Does marrying later in life provide advantages to avoiding divorce?
  • Can we infer that higher income levels also help fend off divorce?
  • Why does educational level affect whether one marries at all?
  • How, in light of these findings, do you view the advice of Church leaders to marry early?