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Marriage and Consumption Insurance: What's Love Got To Do With It?

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  • Gregory D. Hess

    (Claremont McKenna College)

Abstract

This paper explores the role of marriage when markets are incomplete so that individuals cannot diversify their idiosyncratic labor income risk. Ceteris paribus, an individual would prefer to marry a "hedge" (i.e. a spouse whose income is negatively correlated with her own) as it raises her expected utility. The presence of love, however, complicates the picture. If love is very persistent, for example, and the resolution of uncertainty to agents' income is early, then those who in fact married hedges are the ones most likely to be caught short with too little love in order to save a marriage in the event of an adverse shock. Consequently, under these conditions individuals who are good hedges for one another are more likely to marry one another, although once married, they will be more likely to divorce. In contrast, if love is fleeting and the resolution of uncertainty to agents' income is predominantly later, then those who in fact marry hedges will in fact be less likely to subsequently divorce. Evidence is provided to distinguish which of these alternative scenarios is in support of these aspects of the decision to stay married. Additional hypotheses regarding the effect of differences in the expected means and volatilities of partners' incomes are also derived from the theory and tested.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Claremont Colleges in its series Claremont Colleges Working Papers with number 2002-15.

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Date of creation: Jan 2002
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Handle: RePEc:clm:clmeco:2002-15

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Keywords: Consumption Insurance; Marriage;

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  1. Laurence J. Kotlikoff & Avia Spivak, 1979. "The Family as an Incomplete Annuities Market," UCLA Economics Working Papers 151, UCLA Department of Economics.
  2. Gregory D. Hess & Kwanho Shin, 1997. "Risk sharing by households within and across regions and industries," Research Working Paper 97-07, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.
  3. Murphy, Kevin M & Topel, Robert H, 1985. "Estimation and Inference in Two-Step Econometric Models," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 3(4), pages 370-79, October.
  4. Kiefer, Nicholas M, 1988. "Economic Duration Data and Hazard Functions," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 26(2), pages 646-79, June.
  5. Masao Ogaki & Qiang Zhang, 2000. "Decreasing Relative Risk Aversion and Tests of Risk Sharing," Econometric Society World Congress 2000 Contributed Papers 1588, Econometric Society.
  6. David K. Backus & Patrick J. Kehoe & Finn E. Kydland, 1987. "International real business cycles," Working Papers 426, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  7. Gregory D. Hess & Kwanho Shin, 1999. "Risk sharing of disaggregate macroeconomic and idiosyncratic shocks," Working Paper 9915, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.
  8. Johansen, Soren & Juselius, Katarina, 1990. "Maximum Likelihood Estimation and Inference on Cointegration--With Applications to the Demand for Money," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 52(2), pages 169-210, May.
  9. Mace, Barbara J, 1991. "Full Insurance in the Presence of Aggregate Uncertainty," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(5), pages 928-56, October.
  10. J. A. Hausman, 1976. "Specification Tests in Econometrics," Working papers 185, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  11. Cochrane, John H, 1991. "A Simple Test of Consumption Insurance," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(5), pages 957-76, October.
  12. Gregory D. Hess & Kwanho Shin, 1995. "Intranational business cycles in the United States," Research Working Paper 95-07, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.
  13. Rosenzweig, Mark R & Stark, Oded, 1989. "Consumption Smoothing, Migration, and Marriage: Evidence from Rural India," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(4), pages 905-26, August.
  14. Susan Dynarski & Jonathan Gruber, 1997. "Can Families Smooth Variable Earnings?," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 28(1), pages 229-303.
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  1. Cheryl & Cashley: the economics
    by chris dillow in Stumbling and Mumbling on 2008-01-28 16:40:42
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