Kelly Raley

Faculty Research AssociatePh.D., University of Wisconsin - Madison

Professor of Sociology; PRC Associate Director
Kelly Raley



R. Kelly Raley is Christine and Stanley E. Adams, Jr. Centennial Professor of Liberal Arts in the Department of Sociology and Faculty Research Associate in Population Research Center at the University of Texas at Austin. She is also editor of the Journal of Marriage and Family. Her research investigates family trends, the social determinants of family formation, and the impact of family change on social stratification. As part of a larger agenda examining the economic, social, and cultural contributors to marriage disparities in the United States, she has recently completed a project investigating the influence of occupational characteristics on the transition into marriage in early adulthood. Much of her work in this area has addressed racial and ethnic differences in marriage and cohabitation, but her current line of inquiry focuses on educational variation in family formation. 

NLSY 1997 Postsecondary Research Network

Education and Transition to Adulthood Research Group (ETAG) website


Sullivan, M. Kate, R. Kelly Raley, Robert A. Hummer, and Emily Schiefelbein.  Forthcoming. The Potential Contribution of Marital-Cohabitation Status to Racial, Ethnic, and Nativity Differentials in Birth Outcomes in Texas.” Maternal and Child Health Journal.

Raley, R. Kelly. 2011. In Booth et al (Eds). “I just want your kiss? Sexual Relationships in Young Adulthood”  Early Adulthood in a Family Context. New York. Springer

Raley, R. Kelly. 2011. “Family and Household Composition of the Population”. In M. Anderson, C. Citro, and J. Salvo (Eds) Encyclopedia of the U.S. Census: Second Edition.  Washington D.C.: CQ Press.

Raley, R. Kelly and Charles E. Stokes. 2010. Kin Connection: Kin Involvement While Growing Up and Marriage in Adulthood. Social Science Research

Raley, R. Kelly and M. Kate Sullivan. 2010. Social-Contextual influences on Adolescent Romantic and Sexual Activity. Sociological Spectrum, 30: 65-89.

Raley, R. Kelly and Megan M. Sweeney. 2009. Explaining race and ethnic variation in marriage: Directions for future research. Race and Social Problems, 1:132-142.

Choi, Kate H., R. Kelly Raley, Chandra Muller, and Catherine Riegle-Crumb. 2008. “A Longitudinal Analysis of Exposure to Peers with College Educated Parents and Student’s College Enrollment.” Social Science Quarterly, 89: 846-866

Cavanagh, Shannon, Sarah Crissey, and Kelly Raley.  2008. Family Structure and Adolescent Opposite Sex Relationships. Journal of Marriage and Family. 70: 698-714.

Raley, R. Kelly, Sarah Crissey, & Chandra Muller. 2007. “Of Sex and Romance: Adolescent relationships in the transition to adulthood.” Journal of Marriage and Family 69: 1210-1226.

Wildsmith, Elizabeth and R. Kelly Raley. 2006. “Race-Ethnic Differences in Nonmarital Fertility: A Focus on Mexican American Women.” Journal of Marriage and Family. 68: 491-508

Raley, R. Kelly, Michelle Frisco, & Elizabeth Wildsmith. 2005. “Maternal Cohabitation and Educational Success” Sociology of Education. 78: 144-164.

Woo, Hyeyoung & and R. Kelly Raley. 2005. A Small Extension to “Costs and Rewards of Children: The Effects of Becoming a Parent on Adults’ Lives.” Journal of Marriage and Family 67: 216–221

Raley, R. Kelly, T. Elizabeth Durden, & Elizabeth Wildsmith. 2004.  “Understanding Mexican American Marriage Patterns Using a Life Course ApproachSocial Science Quarterly. 85 (4): 872-890.

Raley, R. Kelly and Jenifer Bratter. 2004."Not Even if You Were the Last Person on Earth!  How Marital Search Constraints Affect the Likelihood of Marriage.”  Journal of Family Issues. 25: 167-181.

Raley, R. Kelly and Wildsmith, Elizabeth. 2004.  “Cohabitation and Children’s Family Instability” Journal of Marriage and the Family. 66:210-219

Unpublished Resources

Race-Ethnic Differences in the Non-marital Fertility Rates in 2006-2010

Research in the 1980s pointed to the lower marriage rates of blacks as an important factor contributing to race differences in non-marital fertility. Our analyses update and extend this prior work to investigate whether cohabitation has become an important contributor to this variation. We use data from the 2006–2010 National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG) to decompose race-ethnic differences in non-marital fertility rates into three types of factors based on relationship status, pregnancy rates by relationship status, and marriage following a non-marital pregnancy. We find that the pregnancy rate among single (not cohabiting) women is the biggest contributor to racial-ethnic variation the non-marital fertility rate and that higher proportions of women using no method of contraception among racial minorities explains the majority of the race-ethnic differences in pregnancy rates.



The Need for Nationally Representative Longitudinal Data for Addressing Key Questions about Family Change

The United States is undergoing rapid social change. The nation faces declines in stable family formation, related to growing income inequalities and stalled improvements in population health. This essay considers key questions about families in the United States and whether a new nationally representative panel study is necessary to answer these questions. It argues that current data systems are not well equipped to evaluate the potential sources of these changes over historical time. Most of our longitudinal data systems are designed to follow a single cohort as it ages. This provides an incomplete picture, one that ignores period context, because cohort studies confound period changes with aging. Comparisons across cohort studies can be helpful, but leave a wide gap in our knowledge. A new nationally representative panel study would fill that gap.

ONET data file with censcodes

For a recent project we merged O*NET (version 15) datafiles to the NLSY. The NLSY uses Census 2002 occupation codes and the O*NET has a different coding system (soccodes).  Thus, a first step in this project was to merge O*NET  variables to census codes, so that we could merge these variables onto the work-histories available in the NLSY.

In the linked archive below, there is a sas data file (census_onewkvl) with O*NET work values variables attached to censcodes. I've included the sas program that creates this file ( which you can adapt to make similar files with different O*NET variables.


Download archive