This article focuses on the marriage behavior of rural white males in the United States at the turn of the century. The principal goal of the analysis is to assess the role of agricultural opportunity in determining nuptial timing and prevalence. The major issue addressed is whether restricted opportunity in farming retarded entry into marriage. Overall, the findings suggest that rural young men were less likely to enter marriage when local opportunity in agriculture was poor. One mechanism through which the local opportunity structure influenced nuptiality was occupational choice. Young men who entered nonagricultural pursuits or who were employed as farm laborers were far less likely to have married than young men who became farmers.

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