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Can Pro-Marriage Policies Work? An Analysis of Marginal Marriages

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  • Wolfgang Frimmel
  • Martin Halla
  • Rudolf Winter-Ebmer

Abstract

Policies to promote marriage are controversial, and it is unclear whether they are successful. To analyze such policies, it is essential to distinguish between a marriage that is created by a marriage-promoting policy (marginal marriage) and a marriage that would have been formed even in the absence of a state intervention (average marriage). In this paper, we exploit the suspension of a cash-on-hand marriage subsidy in Austria to examine the differential behavior of marginal and average marriages. The announcement of this suspension led to an enormous marriage boom (plus 350 percent) among eligible couples that allows us to identify marginal marriages. Applying a difference-in-differences approach, we show that marginal marriages are surprisingly as stable as average marriages, but have fewer children and have them later in marriage. Notably, the children born to marginal marriages are similar in terms of health at birth.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Department of Economics, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria in its series Economics working papers with number 2012-09.

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Length: 36 pages
Date of creation: Jul 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:jku:econwp:2012_09

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Keywords: Marriage-promoting policies; marriage subsidies; marital instability; divorce; fertility;

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  1. Keith Finlay & David Neumark, 2010. "Is Marriage Always Good for Children?: Evidence from Families Affected by Incarceration," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 45(4), pages 1046-1088.
  2. Jere R. Behrman & Mark R. Rosenzweig, 2004. "Returns to Birthweight," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 86(2), pages 586-601, May.
  3. Sandra E. Black & Paul Devereux & Kjell G. Salvanes, 2007. "From the Cradle to the Labor Market? The Effect of Birth Weight on Adult Outcomes," Working Papers 200718, Geary Institute, University College Dublin.
  4. Aaron S. Yelowitz, 1998. "Will Extending Medicaid to Two-Parent Families Encourage Marriage?," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 33(4), pages 833-865.
  5. Wolfgang Frimmel & Martin Halla & Rudolf Winter-Ebmer, 2009. "Assortative Mating and Divorce: Evidence from Austrian Register Data," NRN working papers 2009-18, The Austrian Center for Labor Economics and the Analysis of the Welfare State, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria.
  6. Gordon B. Dahl, 2005. "Early Teen Marriage and Future Poverty," NBER Working Papers 11328, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Michael Baker & Emily Hanna & Jasmin Kantarevic, 2004. "The Married Widow: Marriage Penalties Matter!," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 2(4), pages 634-664, 06.
  8. James Alm & Stacy Dickert-Conlin & Leslie A. Whittington, 1999. "Policy Watch: The Marriage Penalty," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 13(3), pages 193-204, Summer.
  9. Josef Zweimüller & Rudolf Winter-Ebmer & Rafael Lalive & Andreas Kuhn & Jean-Philippe Wuellrich & Oliver Ruf & Simon Büchi, 2009. "Austrian social security database," IEW - Working Papers 410, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
    • Josef Zweimüller & Rudolf Winter-Ebmer & Rafael Lalive & Andreas Kuhn & Jean-Philippe Wuellrich & Oliver Ruf & Simon Büchi, 2009. "Austrian Social Security Database," NRN working papers 2009-03, The Austrian Center for Labor Economics and the Analysis of the Welfare State, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria.
  10. Niko Matouschek & Imran Rasul, 2008. "The Economics of the Marriage Contract: Theories and Evidence," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 51(1), pages 59-110, 02.
  11. Nicholas J. Sanders & Charles F. Stoecker, 2011. "Where Have All the Young Men Gone? Using Gender Ratios to Measure Fetal Death Rates," NBER Working Papers 17434, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Becker, Gary S, 1973. "A Theory of Marriage: Part I," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 81(4), pages 813-46, July-Aug..
  13. Paul R. Amato, 2007. "Response to Furstenberg," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 26(4), pages 961-962.
  14. Douglas Almond & Janet Currie, 2011. "Killing Me Softly: The Fetal Origins Hypothesis," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 25(3), pages 153-72, Summer.
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