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A Cautionary Tale about the Use of Administrative Data: Evidence from Age of Marriage Laws

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  • Rebecca M. Blank
  • Kerwin Kofi Charles
  • James M. Sallee

Abstract

This paper demonstrates that administrative data may be inferior to survey data under particular circumstances. We examine the effect of state laws governing the minimum age of marriage in the United States. The estimated effects of these laws are much smaller when based on retrospective reports from census versus administrative records from Vital Statistics data. This discrepancy appears due to systematic avoidance behavior of two kinds. Some young people marry in states with less restrictive laws; others appear to have misrepresented their age on their marriage certificate. Our results have important implications regarding legal avoidance and the use of administrative data. (JEL J12 K36)

Suggested Citation

  • Rebecca M. Blank & Kerwin Kofi Charles & James M. Sallee, 2009. "A Cautionary Tale about the Use of Administrative Data: Evidence from Age of Marriage Laws," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 1(2), pages 128-149, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aejapp:v:1:y:2009:i:2:p:128-49
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/app.1.2.128
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Daniel Klepinger & Shelly Lundberg & Robert Plotnick, 1999. "How Does Adolescent Fertility Affect the Human Capital and Wages of Young Women?," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 34(3), pages 421-448.
    2. Slemrod, Joel, 1992. "Do Taxes Matter? Lessons from the 1980's," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(2), pages 250-256, May.
    3. Kenkel, Donald S, 1993. "Drinking, Driving, and Deterrence: The Effectiveness and Social Costs of Alternative Policies," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 36(2), pages 877-913, October.
    4. Gordon Dahl, 2010. "Early teen marriage and future poverty," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 47(3), pages 689-718, August.
    5. Blank, Rebecca M. & George, Christine C. & London, Rebecca A., 1996. "State abortion rates the impact of policies, providers, politics, demographics, and economic environment," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(5), pages 513-553, October.
    6. McKinnish, Terra, 2007. "Welfare-induced migration at state borders: New evidence from micro-data," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(3-4), pages 437-450, April.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Kasey Buckles & Melanie Guldi & Joseph Price, 2011. "Changing the Price of Marriage: Evidence from Blood Test Requirements," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 46(3), pages 539-567.
    2. Prashant Bharadwaj, 2015. "Impact of Changes in Marriage Law: Implications for Fertility and School Enrollment," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 50(3), pages 614-654.
    3. repec:spr:jopoec:v:30:y:2017:i:3:d:10.1007_s00148-017-0632-5 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Matthew J. Hill, 2014. "Love in the time of the depression: The effect of economic conditions on marriage in the Great Depression," Economics Working Papers 1454, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
    5. Erik Hurst & Geng Li & Benjamin Pugsley, 2014. "Are Household Surveys Like Tax Forms? Evidence from Income Underreporting of the Self-Employed," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 96(1), pages 19-33, March.
    6. Mircea Trandafir, 2014. "The Effect of Same-Sex Marriage Laws on Different-Sex Marriage: Evidence From the Netherlands," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 51(1), pages 317-340, February.
    7. Matthew Collin & Theodore Talbot, 2017. "Do Age-of-Marriage Laws Work? Evidence from a Large Sample of Developing Countries - Working Paper 458," Working Papers 458, Center for Global Development.
    8. Scott Hankins & Mark Hoekstra, 2011. "Lucky in Life, Unlucky in Love?: The Effect of Random Income Shocks on Marriage and Divorce," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 46(2), pages 403-426.
    9. Sara LaLumia & James M. Sallee & Nicholas Turner, 2015. "New Evidence on Taxes and the Timing of Birth," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 7(2), pages 258-293, May.
    10. Joelle Abramowitz & Marcus Dillender, 2017. "Considering the Use of Stock and Flow Outcomes in Empirical Analyses: An Examination of Marriage Data," Working Papers 17-64, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
    11. Edlund, Lena Cecilia & Machado, Cecilia, 2009. "Marriage and Emancipation in The Age of The Pill," CEPR Discussion Papers 7485, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    12. Edlund, Lena & Machado, Cecilia, 2015. "How the other half lived: Marriage and emancipation in the age of the Pill," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 80(C), pages 295-309.
    13. Chunbei Wang & Le Wang, 0. "Knot yet: minimum marriage age law, marriage delay, and earnings," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 0, pages 1-34.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J12 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Marriage; Marital Dissolution; Family Structure
    • K36 - Law and Economics - - Other Substantive Areas of Law - - - Family and Personal Law

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