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Who Marries Differently-Aged Spouses?: Earnings, Ability and Appearance

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  • Hani Mansour
  • Terra McKinnish

Abstract

In direct contrast to conventional wisdom and most economic models of gender differences in age of marriage, we present robust evidence that men and women who are married to differently-aged spouses are negatively selected. Earnings analysis of married couples in the 1970, 1980, 1990 and 2000 Decennial Censuses finds that male earnings decrease with within-couple age difference, regardless of whether the man is older or younger than his wife. In contrast, female earnings increase with within-couple age difference. We argue and present evidence that women in differently-aged couples have higher earnings not because of positive selection, but because their hours of work increase in response to partnering with a lower earning man. We test for negative selection into differently-aged couples using three measures: average earnings per hour in occupation using Census data, cognitive skills assessments from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979 cohort (NLSY79), and measures of physical appearance from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health). The point estimates indicate negative selection on all of these characteristics, although statistical significance varies by outcome and sample.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research in its series Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin with number 1123.

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Length: 39 p.
Date of creation: 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:diw:diwwpp:dp1123

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Keywords: marital sorting; occupational choice; non-labor market outcomes;

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  1. Aloysius Siow, 1996. "Differential Fecundity, Markets and Gender Roles," Working Papers siow-96-01, University of Toronto, Department of Economics.
  2. Coles, Melvyn & Francesconi, Marco, 2007. "On the Emergence of Toyboys: Equilibrium Matching with Ageing and Uncertain Careers," IZA Discussion Papers 2612, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  3. Pierre-André Chiappori & Sonia Oreffice & Climent Quintana-Domeque, 2012. "Matching with a Handicap: The Case of Smoking in the Marriage Market," CHILD Working Papers Series 8, Centre for Household, Income, Labour and Demographic Economics (CHILD) - CCA.
  4. French, Michael T. & Robins, Philip K. & Homer, Jenny F. & Tapsell, Lauren M., 2009. "Effects of physical attractiveness, personality, and grooming on academic performance in high school," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 16(4), pages 373-382, August.
  5. Bloemen, Hans & Stancanelli, Elena G. F., 2008. "Modelling the Employment and Wage Outcomes of Spouses: Is She Outearning Him?," IZA Discussion Papers 3455, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  6. Stevenson, Betsey & Wolfers, Justin, 2007. "Marriage and Divorce: Changes and their Driving Forces," IZA Discussion Papers 2602, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  7. Grossbard-Shechtman, Shoshana Amyra & Neuman, Shoshana, 1988. "Women's Labor Supply and Marital Choice," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 96(6), pages 1294-1302, December.
  8. Hamermesh, Daniel S. & Abrevaya, Jason, 2013. "Beauty is the promise of happiness?," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 64(C), pages 351-368.
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Cited by:
  1. Sonia Oreffice & Climent Quintana-Domeque, 2012. "A Matter of Weight? The Role of Spouses. Physical Attractiveness on Hours of Work," CHILD Working Papers Series 7, Centre for Household, Income, Labour and Demographic Economics (CHILD) - CCA.
  2. Sonia Oreffice & Climent Quintana-Domeque, 2012. "Fat spouses and hours of work: are body and Pareto weights correlated?," IZA Journal of Labor Economics, Springer, vol. 1(1), pages 1-21, December.
  3. Chiappori, Pierre-André & Oreffice, Sonia & Quintana-Domeque, Climent, 2011. "Black-White Marital Matching: Race, Anthropometrics, and Socioeconomics," IZA Discussion Papers 6196, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

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