Abstract

Immigration was a prominent feature of American life during the early decades of the twentieth century. About 40% of the white population was of foreign birth or parentage, and immigrants were increasingly from diverse national origins. Using data from the Public Use Microdata Sample of the 1910 U.S. Census, we examine generational and ethnic differences in marital timing. The analysis reveals a striking pattern of delayed marriage among native whites with foreign parents, but marked ethnic variation in the extent of marriage delay within the second generation. We hypothesize that locational factors, especially diverse economic opportunities, were important in shaping this marriage pattern. Separate multilevel analyses are conducted for females and for males living in urban and in rural places. Although significant effects for a variety of contextual factors are found, generational and ethnic differences in nuptial timing persist in multivariate models.

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