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Does Marriage Make People Happy, Or Do Happy People Get Married?

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  • Alois Stutzer
  • Bruno S. Frey

Abstract

This paper analyzes the causal relationships between marriage and subjective well-being in a longitudinal data set spanning 17 years. We find evidence that more happy singles opt more likely for marriage and that there are large differences in the benefits from marriage between couples. Potential, as well as actual, division of labor seems to contribute to spouses' well-being, especially for women and when there is a young family to raise. In contrast, large differences in the partners' educational level have a negative effect on experienced life satisfaction.

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Paper provided by Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich in its series IEW - Working Papers with number 143.

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Handle: RePEc:zur:iewwpx:143

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Keywords: division of labor; marriage; selection; subjective well-being;

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  1. David G. Blanchflower & Andrew J. Oswald, 2000. "Well-Being Over Time in Britain and the USA," NBER Working Papers 7487, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Gary S. Becker, 1981. "A Treatise on the Family," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number beck81-1, July.
  3. Robert J. MacCulloch & Rafael Di Tella & Andrew J. Oswald, 2001. "Preferences over Inflation and Unemployment: Evidence from Surveys of Happiness," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 91(1), pages 335-341, March.
  4. Oswald, Andrew J, 1997. "Happiness and Economic Performance," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, Royal Economic Society, vol. 107(445), pages 1815-31, November.
  5. Weiss, Y., 1992. "The Formation and Dissolution of Families: Why Marry? Who Marries Whom ? and What Happens Upon Marriage and Divorce," University of Chicago - Economics Research Center, Chicago - Economics Research Center 92-7, Chicago - Economics Research Center.
  6. Alois Stutzer & Bruno S. Frey, 2004. "Reported Subjective Well-Being: A Challenge for Economic Theory and Economic Policy," Schmollers Jahrbuch : Journal of Applied Social Science Studies / Zeitschrift für Wirtschafts- und Sozialwissenschaften, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin, vol. 124(2), pages 191-231.
  7. Frey, Bruno S & Stutzer, Alois, 2000. "Happiness, Economy and Institutions," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, Royal Economic Society, vol. 110(466), pages 918-38, October.
  8. Clark, Andrew E & Oswald, Andrew J, 1994. "Unhappiness and Unemployment," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, Royal Economic Society, vol. 104(424), pages 648-59, May.
  9. Bruno S. Frey & Alois Stutzer, . "What can Economists Learn from Happiness Research?," IEW - Working Papers, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich 080, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  10. Easterlin, Richard A, 2001. "Income and Happiness: Towards an Unified Theory," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, Royal Economic Society, vol. 111(473), pages 465-84, July.
  11. Becker, Gary S, 1973. "A Theory of Marriage: Part I," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, University of Chicago Press, vol. 81(4), pages 813-46, July-Aug..
  12. Sanders Korenman & David Neumark, 1991. "Does Marriage Really Make Men More Productive?," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 26(2), pages 282-307.
  13. Gary S. Becker, 1974. "A Theory of Marriage: Part II," NBER Chapters, in: Marriage, Family, Human Capital, and Fertility, pages 11-26 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Eng Seng Loh, 1996. "Productivity Differences and the Marriage Wage Premium for White Males," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 31(3), pages 566-589.
  15. Robert A. Pollak, 2002. "Gary Becker's Contributions to Family and Household Economics," NBER Working Papers 9232, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Ada Ferrer-i-Carbonell & Paul Frijters, 2002. "How important is Methodology for the Estimates of the Determinants of Happiness?," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 02-024/3, Tinbergen Institute.
  17. Daniel, K., 1991. "Does Marriage Make Men More Productive?," University of Chicago - Economics Research Center, Chicago - Economics Research Center 92-2, Chicago - Economics Research Center.
  18. Chun, Hyunbae & Lee, Injae, 2001. "Why Do Married Men Earn More: Productivity or Marriage Selection?," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, Western Economic Association International, vol. 39(2), pages 307-19, April.
  19. Kahneman, Daniel & Wakker, Peter P & Sarin, Rakesh, 1997. "Back to Bentham? Explorations of Experienced Utility," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, MIT Press, vol. 112(2), pages 375-405, May.
  20. Robert A. Nakosteen & Michael A. Zimmer, 1987. "Marital Status and Earnings of Young Men: A Model with Endogenous Selection," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 22(2), pages 248-268.
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