This paper applies the techniques of multiple decrement life tables to marriage histories collected as part of the 1973 National Survey of Family Growth, in an attempt to examine differences in pattern and level of marriage dissolution by marriage order. The paper considers the process of marriage dissolution in two stages—marriage to separation and separation to divorce—in addition to considering the composite of these two, marriage to divorce. Second marriages are more likely to remain intact only for blacks. For all subgroups of whites, second marriages are either as likely or more likely to dissolve than first marriages. For both first and second marriages, blacks are considerably less likely to obtain a divorce after separation.

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