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

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  • Mansour, Hani

    ()
    (University of Colorado Denver)

  • McKinnish, Terra

    ()
    (University of Colorado, Boulder)

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 1960, 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, but this is due to the fact that women with differently-aged spouses work more hours not because they command higher wages. 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 Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 6678.

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Length: 42 pages
Date of creation: Jun 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp6678

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Keywords: marriage markets; age difference; selection;

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References

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  1. Stevenson, Betsey & Wolfers, Justin, 2007. "Marriage and Divorce: Changes and their Driving Forces," IZA Discussion Papers 2602, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  2. Chiappori, Pierre-André & Oreffice, Sonia & Quintana-Domeque, Climent, 2010. "Matching with a Handicap: The Case of Smoking in the Marriage Market," IZA Discussion Papers 5392, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  3. Elena Stancanelli & Hans Bloemen, 2008. "Modelling the employment and wage outcomes of spouses: is she outearning him?," Sciences Po publications info:hdl:2441/9665, Sciences Po.
  4. 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.
  5. 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).
  6. Hamermesh, Daniel S. & Abrevaya, Jason, 2013. "Beauty is the promise of happiness?," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 64(C), pages 351-368.
  7. 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.
  8. Aloysius Siow, 1998. "Differential Fecundity, Markets, and Gender Roles," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 106(2), pages 334-354, April.
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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. 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).
  3. 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.

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