Identifying a causal relationship between education and marital status poses methodological challenges. Using regression discontinuity analyses of U.S. Census data from 1910 and 1930, I estimate effects of early U.S. compulsory schooling laws on marital patterns by gender and race. Results from 1910 suggest that compulsory laws had heterogeneous effects by race and gender, reducing the likelihood of being married only among nonwhite men. Results from 1930 suggest that compulsory schooling decreased the racial gap in likelihood of being married and in age at first marriage by at least 24 percent. Contemporary implications include potential benefits of extended compulsory schooling for racial equality.
Year of publication
The Sociological Quarterly