Marriage and Consumption Insurance: What's Love Got To Do With It?
AbstractThis 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 InfoPaper provided by Claremont Colleges in its series Claremont Colleges Working Papers with number 2002-15.
Date of creation: Jan 2002
Date of revision:
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More information through EDIRC
Consumption Insurance; Marriage;
Other versions of this item:
- Gregory D. Hess, 2004. "Marriage and Consumption Insurance: What's Love Got to Do with It?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(2), pages 290-318, April.
- Gregory D. Hess, 2001. "Marriage and consumption insurance: what's love got to do with it?," Working Paper 0104, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.
- Gregory D. Hess, 2001. "Marriage and Consumption Insurance: What’s Love Got to do With It?," CESifo Working Paper Series 507, CESifo Group Munich.
- J12 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Marriage; Marital Dissolution; Family Structure
- D1 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior
- E21 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Consumption; Saving; Wealth
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-DGE-2002-10-18 (Dynamic General Equilibrium)
- NEP-IAS-2002-10-08 (Insurance Economics)
- NEP-MIC-2002-10-18 (Microeconomics)
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