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What Accounts for the Increase in the Number of Single Households?

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  • Jose-Victor Rios-Rull

    (University of Minnesota, Minneapolis FED, CAERP, CEPR, NBER)

  • Jacob Short

    (University of Minnesota)

  • Ferdinando Regalia

    (IADB)

Abstract

Between the mid 1970's and the beginning of the 2000's the share of single females grew dramatically in the U.S. (from 21% to 32%). So did the share of single mothers (from 10% to 14%). At the same time relative wages within and between sexes underwent huge changes. In this paper we measure the contribution that changes in relative wages had in accounting for these and other demographic facts. We construct a model where agents differ in sex, take marital status and fertility decisions and invest in their children's human capital. Our fi ndings show that changes in relative earnings potential account for: i) almost ninety percent of the observed change in the share of single women, and ii) all the observed change in the share of single mothers, with a sharper increase among poor women. This occurs mainly through a drop in the model economy marriage rate that mimics the pattern found in the data.

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File URL: http://www.economicdynamics.org/meetpapers/2010/paper_995.pdf
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Society for Economic Dynamics in its series 2010 Meeting Papers with number 995.

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Date of creation: 2010
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Handle: RePEc:red:sed010:995

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  1. Gary S. Becker & Nigel Tomes, 1976. "Child Endowments, and the Quantity and Quality of Children," NBER Working Papers 0123, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Solon, Gary, 1992. "Intergenerational Income Mobility in the United States," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(3), pages 393-408, June.
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Cited by:
  1. Paula GOBBI, 2013. "Childcare and Commitment within Households," Discussion Papers (IRES - Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales) 2013019, Université catholique de Louvain, Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales (IRES).
  2. BAUDIN, Thomas & DE LA CROIX, David & GOBBI, Paula, 2012. "DINKs, DEWKs & Co. Marriage, fertility and childlessness in the United States," CORE Discussion Papers 2012051, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  3. Shannon Seitz & Jose-Victor Rios-Rull & Satoshi Tanaka, 2013. "Sex Ratios and Long-Term Marriage Trends," 2013 Meeting Papers 1349, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  4. David Weiss & Cezar Santos, 2011. "Why Not Settle Down Already? A Quantitative Question," 2011 Meeting Papers 921, Society for Economic Dynamics.

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