Advanced Search
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

Marriage Meets the Joneses: Relative Income, Identity, and Marital Status

Contents:

Author Info

  • Tara Watson

    (Williams College, University of Michigan, and NBER)

  • Sara McLanahan

    (Princeton University)

Abstract

In this paper we investigate the effect of relative income on marital status. We develop an identity model based on Akerlof and Kranton (2000) and apply it to the marriage decision. The empirical evidence is consistent with the idea that people are more likely to marry when their incomes approach a financial level associated with idealized norms of marriage. We hypothesize that the marriage ideal is determined by the median income in an individual’s local reference group. After controlling flexibly for the absolute level of income and a number of other factors, the ratio between a man’s income and the marriage ideal is a strong predictor of marital status but only if he is below the ideal. For white men, relative income considerations jointly drive coresidence, marriage, and fatherhood decisions. For black men, relative income affects the marriage decision only, and relative income is tied to marital status even for those living with a partner and children. Relative income concerns explain 10-15 percent of the decline in marriage since 1970 for low income white men, and account for more than half of the persistent marriage gap between high- and low-income men.

Download Info

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
File URL: http://crcw.princeton.edu/workingpapers/WP09-04-FF.pdf
Download Restriction: no

Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Center for Research on Child Wellbeing. in its series Working Papers with number 1141.

as in new window
Length:
Date of creation: Feb 2009
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:pri:crcwel:wp09-04-ff

Contact details of provider:
Postal: Wallace Hall, Princeton NJ 08544-1013
Phone: (609) 258-1456
Fax: (609) 258-5974
Web page: http://crcw.princeton.edu/
More information through EDIRC

Related research

Keywords: marriage; relative income; inequality; identity;

Other versions of this item:

Find related papers by JEL classification:

References

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
as in new window
  1. David Neumark & Andrew Postlewaite, 1995. "Relative Income Concerns and the Rise in Married Women's Employment," NBER Working Papers 5044, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Cevdet Denizer & Holger C. Wolf, 1998. "Household Savings in Transition Economies," NBER Working Papers 6457, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Betsey Stevenson & Justin Wolfers, 2007. "Marriage and divorce: changes and their driving forces," Working Paper Series 2007-03, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
  4. Clark, Andrew E. & Frijters, Paul & Shields, Michael A., 2007. "Relative Income, Happiness and Utility: An Explanation for the Easterlin Paradox and Other Puzzles," IZA Discussion Papers 2840, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  5. David A. Jaeger & Susanna Loeb & Sarah E. Turner & John Bound, 1998. "Coding Geographic Areas Across Census Years: Creating Consistent Definitions of Metropolitan Areas," NBER Working Papers 6772, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. David S. Loughran, 2002. "The Effect Of Male Wage Inequality On Female Age At First Marriage," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 84(2), pages 237-250, May.
  7. repec:ebl:ecbull:v:26:y:2006:i:4:p:1-20 is not listed on IDEAS
  8. David Albouy, 2008. "Are Big Cities Bad Places to Live? Estimating Quality of Life across Metropolitan Areas," NBER Working Papers 14472, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. David Lam, 1988. "Marriage Markets and Assortative Mating with Household Public Goods: Theoretical Results and Empirical Implications," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 23(4), pages 462-487.
  10. Robert J. Willis, 1999. "A Theory of Out-of-Wedlock Childbearing," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(S6), pages S33-S64, December.
  11. Levernier, William & Partridge, Mark D. & Rickman, Dan S., 1998. "Differences in Metropolitan and Nonmetropolitan U.S. Family Income Inequality: A Cross-County Comparison," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 44(2), pages 272-290, September.
  12. Edward L. Glaeser & Joshua D. Gottlieb, 2009. "The Wealth of Cities: Agglomeration Economies and Spatial Equilibrium in the United States," NBER Working Papers 14806, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Glaeser, Edward L. & Kahn, Matthew E. & Rappaport, Jordan, 2008. "Why do the poor live in cities The role of public transportation," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 63(1), pages 1-24, January.
  14. Daniel Lichter & Zhenchao Qian & Leanna Mellott, 2006. "Marriage or dissolution? Union transitions among poor cohabiting women," Demography, Springer, vol. 43(2), pages 223-240, May.
  15. Gould, Eric D. & Paserman, M. Daniele, 2003. "Waiting for Mr. Right: rising inequality and declining marriage rates," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(2), pages 257-281, March.
  16. Miller, Douglas L. & Paxson, Christina, 2006. "Relative income, race, and mortality," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(5), pages 979-1003, September.
  17. Mary C. Daly & Daniel J. Wilson & Norman J. Johnson, 2007. "Relative status and well-being: evidence from U.S. suicide deaths," Working Paper Series 2007-12, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
  18. Joseph Gyourko & Joseph S. Tracy, 1986. "The Importance of Local Fiscal Conditions in Analyzing Local Labor Markets," NBER Working Papers 2040, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  19. Luttmer, Erzo F. P., 2004. "Neighbors as Negatives: Relative Earnings and Well-Being," Working Paper Series rwp04-029, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
  20. Benno Torgler & Sascha Schmidt, 2007. "What shapes player performance in soccer? Empirical findings from a panel analysis," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 39(18), pages 2355-2369.
  21. Justina A.V. Fischer & Benno Torgler, 2006. "The Effect of Relative Income Position on Social Capital," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 26(4), pages 1-20.
  22. Timothy J. Bartik, . "The Distributional Effects of Local Labor Demand and Industrial Mix: Estimates Using Individual Panel Data," Upjohn Working Papers and Journal Articles tjb1996, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.
  23. S Davies Withers, 1998. "Linking household transitions and housing transitions: a longitudinal analysis of renters," Environment and Planning A, Pion Ltd, London, vol. 30(4), pages 615-630, April.
  24. Christine Eibner & William N. Evans, 2005. "Relative Deprivation, Poor Health Habits, and Mortality," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 40(3).
  25. Jesse Rothstein, 2007. "Does Competition Among Public Schools Benefit Students and Taxpayers? Comment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(5), pages 2026-2037, December.
  26. Thomas W. Volscho & Andrew S. Fullerton, 2005. "Metropolitan Earnings Inequality: Union and Government-Sector Employment Effects," Social Science Quarterly, Southwestern Social Science Association, vol. 86(s1), pages 1324-1337.
  27. George A. Akerlof & Rachel E. Kranton, 2000. "Economics And Identity," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 115(3), pages 715-753, August.
  28. Kate Antonovics & Robert Town, 2004. "Are All the Good Men Married? Uncovering the Sources of the Marital Wage Premium," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(2), pages 317-321, May.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

Citations

Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
as in new window

Cited by:
  1. Martha J. Bailey & Melanie E. Guldi & Brad J. Hershbein, 2013. "Is There A Case for a "Second Demographic Transition"? Three Distinctive Features of the Post-1960 U.S. Fertility Decline," NBER Working Papers 19599, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Chen, Xi & Kanbur, Ravi & Zhang, Xiaobo, 2012. "Peer Effects, Risk Pooling, and Status Seeking: What Explains Gift Spending Escalation in Rural China?," CEPR Discussion Papers 8777, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Melissa S. Kearney & Phillip B. Levine, 2014. "Income Inequality, Social Mobility, and the Decision to Drop Out of High School," NBER Working Papers 20195, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Macunovich, Diane J., 2011. "Re-Visiting the Easterlin Hypothesis: Marriage in the U.S. 1968-2010," IZA Discussion Papers 5886, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  5. Joan Costa-i-Font & Frank Cowell, 2013. "Social Identity and Redistributive Preferences: A Survey," CESifo Working Paper Series 4440, CESifo Group Munich.
  6. Laura Tach & Kathryn Edin, 2013. "The Compositional and Institutional Sources of Union Dissolution for Married and Unmarried Parents in the United States," Demography, Springer, vol. 50(5), pages 1789-1818, October.
  7. Marianne Bertrand & Jessica Pan & Emir Kamenica, 2013. "Gender Identity and Relative Income within Households," NBER Working Papers 19023, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Wen-Chun Chang, 2013. "Climbing up the Social Ladders: Identity, Relative Income, and Subjective Well-being," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 113(1), pages 513-535, August.
  9. Martha J. Bailey & Susan M. Dynarski, 2011. "Gains and Gaps: Changing Inequality in U.S. College Entry and Completion," NBER Working Papers 17633, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

Lists

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

Statistics

Access and download statistics

Corrections

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:pri:crcwel:wp09-04-ff. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (David Long).

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.