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Gender, Marriage, and Asset Accumulation in the United States

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  • Lucie Schmidt

    (Williams College)

  • Purvi Sevak

    (Hunter College)

Abstract

Wealth accumulation has important implications for the relative well-being of households. In this paper, we describe how household wealth in the United States varies by gender and family type. We find evidence of large differences in observed wealth between single-female-headed households and married couples. Although some of this gap reflects differences in observable characteristics correlated with gender and wealth – such as position in the life cycle, education, and family earnings – controlling for these characteristics reduces but does not eliminate the estimated wealth gap. The wealth holdings of single females in the U.S., controlling for these same characteristics, are also significantly lower than the wealth holdings of single males in the U.S. In contrast, observed wealth gaps between genders in a sub-sample of young households disappear when controlling for observable characteristics, suggesting either that these gaps are disappearing for younger households or that these gaps do not emerge until later in life.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center in its series Working Papers with number wp109.

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Length: 36 pages
Date of creation: Dec 2005
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:mrr:papers:wp109

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Cited by:
  1. Jonathan Vespa & Matthew Painter, 2011. "Cohabitation History, Marriage, and Wealth Accumulation," Demography, Springer, vol. 48(3), pages 983-1004, August.
  2. Erin Ruel & Robert Hauser, 2013. "Explaining the Gender Wealth Gap," Demography, Springer, vol. 50(4), pages 1155-1176, August.
  3. Bertocchi, Graziella & Brunetti, Marianna & Torricelli, Costanza, 2009. "Marriage and Other Risky Assets: A Portfolio Approach," CEPR Discussion Papers 7162, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  4. GRABKA Markus & MARCUS Jan & SIERMINSKA Eva, 2013. "Wealth distribution within couples and financial decision making," CEPS/INSTEAD Working Paper Series 2013-02, CEPS/INSTEAD.
  5. Sierminska, Eva M. & Frick, Joachim R. & Grabka, Markus M., 2010. "Examining the gender wealth gap," EconStor Open Access Articles, ZBW - German National Library of Economics, pages 669-690.
  6. Denise Doiron & Rochelle Guttmann, 2009. "Wealth Distributions of Migrant and Australian-born Households," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 85(268), pages 32-45, 03.
  7. Sierminska, Eva & Frick, Joachim R. & Grabka, Markus M., 2008. "Examining the Gender Wealth Gap in Germany," IZA Discussion Papers 3573, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  8. Grabka, Markus M. & Marcus, Jan & Sierminska, Eva, 2013. "Wealth Distribution within Couples," IZA Discussion Papers 7637, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  9. Joyce P. Jacobsen, 2012. "Closing the Gender Gap: What Would It Take?," Wesleyan Economics Working Papers 2012-006, Wesleyan University, Department of Economics.
  10. Grinstein-Weiss, Michal & Hun Yeo, Yeong & Zhan, Min & Charles, Pajarita, 2008. "Asset holding and net worth among households with children: Differences by household type," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 30(1), pages 62-78, January.
  11. Raval, Vishvesh & Vyas, Khyati, 2013. "Financial freedom experience of Indian Male and Female Executives," MPRA Paper 49460, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  12. Judy Postmus & Sara-Beth Plummer & Sarah McMahon & Karen Zurlo, 2013. "Financial Literacy: Building Economic Empowerment with Survivors of Violence," Journal of Family and Economic Issues, Springer, vol. 34(3), pages 275-284, September.
  13. Angela Lyons & Urvi Neelakantan & Erik Scherpf, 2008. "Gender and Marital Differences in Wealth and Investment Decisions: Implications for Researchers, Financial Professionals, and Educators," NFI Working Papers 2008-WP-02, Indiana State University, Scott College of Business, Networks Financial Institute.

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