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

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Abstract

This paper investigates the effect of relative income on marriage. Accounting flexibly for absolute income, the ratio between a manÂ’s income and a local reference group median is a strong predictor of marital status, but only for low-income men. Relative income affects marriage even among those living with a partner. A ten percent higher reference group income is associated with a two percent reduction in marriage. We propose an identity model to explain the results.

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File URL: http://web.williams.edu/Economics/wp/WatsonMcLanahanMarriageMeetsTheJoneses.pdf
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Department of Economics, Williams College in its series Department of Economics Working Papers with number 2010-06.

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Length: 73 pages
Date of creation: Aug 2010
Date of revision:
Publication status: Published in Journal of Human Resources 46: 568-586
Handle: RePEc:wil:wileco:2010-06

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Keywords: marriage; relative income; inequality; identity;

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References

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Citations

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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 & Zhang, Xiaobo & Kanbur, Ravi, 2012. "PEER EFFECTS, RISK POOLING, AND STATUS SEEKING: What Explains Gift Spending Escalation in Rural China?," Working Papers 128797, Cornell University, Department of Applied Economics and Management.
  3. 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.
  4. Marianne Bertrand & Jessica Pan & Emir Kamenica, 2013. "Gender Identity and Relative Income within Households," NBER Working Papers 19023, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Joan Costa-i-Font & Frank Cowell, 2012. "Social identity and redistributive preferences: a survey," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 44307, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  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. 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).
  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.

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