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'Acting Wife': Marriage Market Incentives and Labor Market Investments

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  • Leonardo Bursztyn
  • Thomas Fujiwara
  • Amanda Pallais

Abstract

Do single women avoid career-enhancing actions because these actions signal undesirable traits, like ambition, to the marriage market? While married and unmarried female MBA students perform similarly when their performance is unobserved by classmates (on exams and problem sets), unmarried women have lower participation grades. In a field experiment, single female students reported lower desired salaries and willingness to travel and work long hours on a real-stakes placement questionnaire when they expected their classmates to see their preferences. Other groups' responses were unaffected by peer observability. A second experiment indicates the effects are driven by observability by single male peers.

Suggested Citation

  • Leonardo Bursztyn & Thomas Fujiwara & Amanda Pallais, 2017. "'Acting Wife': Marriage Market Incentives and Labor Market Investments," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 107(11), pages 3288-3319, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:107:y:2017:i:11:p:3288-3319
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.20170029
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments
    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design
    • J12 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Marriage; Marital Dissolution; Family Structure
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials

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