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Lucky in Life, Unlucky in Love? The Effect of Random Income Shocks on Marriage and Divorce

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  • Mark L. Hoekstra
  • Scott Hankins
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    Abstract

    Economists have long been interested in the extent to which economic resources affect decisions to marry and divorce. For married couples, an increase in resources can either provide a stabilization effect or, alternatively, can enable divorce by allowing the couple to overcome costs associated with divorce. Similarly, while economic theory predicts that an increase in income makes an unmarried person more attractive to potential marriage partners, it may also make single life more attractive. However, answering these questions empirically has been difficult due to a lack of exogenous income shocks. We overcome this problem by exploiting the randomness of the Florida Lottery and comparing recipients of large prizes to those of small prizes. Results indicate that while positive income shocks of $25,000 to $50,000 do not cause statistically significant or economically meaningful changes in divorce rates, single women are less likely to marry as a result of the additional income.

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    File URL: http://www.econ.pitt.edu/papers/Mark_marriage&divorce.pdf
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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by University of Pittsburgh, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 329.

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    Date of creation: Nov 2007
    Date of revision: Apr 2009
    Handle: RePEc:pit:wpaper:329

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    1. Melvin Stephens Jr., 2003. ""3rd of tha Month": Do Social Security Recipients Smooth Consumption Between Checks?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(1), pages 406-422, March.
    2. Johnson, William R & Skinner, Jonathan, 1986. "Labor Supply and Marital Separation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(3), pages 455-69, June.
    3. Lindahl, Mikael, 2002. "Estimating the Effect of Income on Health and Mortality Using Lottery Prizes as Exogenous of Variation in Income," IZA Discussion Papers 442, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    4. 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.
    5. Kerwin Kofi Charles & Melvin Stephens, 2004. "Job Displacement, Disability, and Divorce," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 22(2), pages 489-522, April.
    6. Jerry Hausman, 2001. "Mismeasured Variables in Econometric Analysis: Problems from the Right and Problems from the Left," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 15(4), pages 57-67, Fall.
    7. Guido W. Imbens & Donald B. Rubin & Bruce I. Sacerdote, 2001. "Estimating the Effect of Unearned Income on Labor Earnings, Savings, and Consumption: Evidence from a Survey of Lottery Players," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(4), pages 778-794, September.
    8. Shapiro, Jesse M., 2005. "Is there a daily discount rate? Evidence from the food stamp nutrition cycle," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(2-3), pages 303-325, February.
    9. David Laibson & Andrea Repetto & Jeremy Tobacman, 2000. "A Debt Puzzle," NBER Working Papers 7879, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Moffitt, Robert, 1992. "Incentive Effects of the U.S. Welfare System: A Review," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 30(1), pages 1-61, March.
    11. David G. Schramm, 2006. "Individual and Social Costs of Divorce in Utah," Journal of Family and Economic Issues, Springer, vol. 27(1), pages 133-151, April.
    12. Wei-Yin Hu, 2003. "Marriage and Economic Incentives: Evidence from a Welfare Experiment," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 38(4).
    13. 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.
    14. Lyle P. Groeneveld & Nancy Brandon Tuma & Michael T. Hannan, 1980. "The Effects of Negative Income Tax Programs on Marital Dissolution," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 15(4), pages 654-674.
    15. Hausman, J. A. & Abrevaya, Jason & Scott-Morton, F. M., 1998. "Misclassification of the dependent variable in a discrete-response setting," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 87(2), pages 239-269, September.
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    1. Health effects of non-health programs
      by Berk Ozler in Development Impact on 2012-07-12 03:29:03

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