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Can Long-Term Cohabiting and Marital Unions be Incentivized?

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  • Audrey Light

    ()
    (Department of Economics, Ohio State University)

  • Yoshiaki Omori

    (Faculty of Economics, Yokohama National University)

Abstract

In this study, we ask whether economic factors that can be directly manipulated by public policy have important effects on the probability that women experience long-lasting unions. Using data from the 1979 National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, we estimate a fivestage sequential choice model for women’s transitions between single with no prior unions, cohabiting, first-married, re-single (divorced or separated), and remarried. We control for expected income tax burdens, AFDC or TANF benefits, Medicaid expenditures, and parameters of state divorce laws, along with an array of demographic, family background, and market factors. We simulate women’s sequences of transitions from age 18 to 48, and use the simulated outcomes to predict the probability that a woman with given characteristics (a) forms a first union by age 24 and maintains the union for at least 12 years, and (b) forms a second union by age 36 and maintains it for at least 12 years. While nonpolicy factors such as race and schooling prove to have important effects on the predicted probabilities of long-term unions, the policy factors have small and/or imprecisely estimated effects; in short, we fail to identify policy mechanisms that could potentially be used to incentivize long-term unions.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Ohio State University, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 12-01.

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Length: 37 pages
Date of creation: Mar 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:osu:osuewp:12-01

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  1. 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.
  2. Robert Kaestner & Neeraj Kaushal, 2001. "Immigrant and Native Responses to Welfare Reform," NBER Working Papers 8541, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Audrey Light & Yoshiaki Omori, 2013. "Determinants of Long-Term Unions: Who Survives the “Seven Year Itch”?," Population Research and Policy Review, Springer, vol. 32(6), pages 851-891, December.
  4. Saul D. Hoffman & Greg J. Duncan, 1995. "The Effect of Incomes, Wages, and AFDC Benefits on Marital Disruption," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 30(1), pages 19-41.
  5. Leslie S. Stratton, 2002. "Examining the Wage Differential for Married and Cohabiting Men," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 40(2), pages 199-212, April.
  6. Marianne P. Bitler & Jonah B. Gelbach & Hilary W. Hoynes & Madeline Zavodny, 2002. "The impact of welfare reform on marriage and divorce," Working Paper 2002-9, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
  7. Stéphane Mechoulan, 2006. "Divorce Laws and the Structure of the American Family," Working Papers tecipa-245, University of Toronto, Department of Economics.
  8. Spiros Bougheas & Yannis Georgellis, . "The Effect of Divorce Costs on Marriage Formation and Dissolution," Economics and Finance Discussion Papers 97-05, Economics and Finance Section, School of Social Sciences, Brunel University.
  9. Cornwell, Christopher & Rupert, Peter, 1997. "Unobservable Individual Effects, Marriage and the Earnings of Young Men," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 35(2), pages 285-94, April.
  10. Peters, H Elizabeth, 1986. "Marriage and Divorce: Informational Constraints and Private Contracting," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(3), pages 437-54, June.
  11. James J. Heckman & John Eric Humphries & Sergio Urzua & Gregory Veramendi, 2010. "The effects of educational choices on labor market, health, and social outcomes," Working Papers 2011-002, Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Working Group.
  12. Audrey Light & Yoshiaki Omori, 2009. "Economic Incentives and Family Formation," Working Papers 09-08, Ohio State University, Department of Economics.
  13. Robert Moffitt & Robert Reville & Anne Winkler, 1998. "Beyond single mothers: Cohabitation and marriage in the AFDC program," Demography, Springer, vol. 35(3), pages 259-278, August.
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Cited by:
  1. Audrey Light & Yoshiaki Omori, 2013. "Determinants of Long-Term Unions: Who Survives the “Seven Year Itch”?," Population Research and Policy Review, Springer, vol. 32(6), pages 851-891, December.

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