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Wage Differentials and the Mating Taboo 1970-1980


  • Linda Y. Wong



This paper studies the role of the mating taboo (distaste for intermarriage) in explaining the narrowing mean wage gaps between intermarried and intramarried black men. A search framework is extended to incorporate agents' races. To offset the mating taboo, agents who intermarry raise selection criterion; such selection behavior implies that the conditional expected intermarriage output can exceed the conditional mean intramarriage output. Samples of newlyweds from the 1970-1980 Census are used to examine the wage gap response to the mating taboo. After controlling for self-selection, the predicted positive mean wage gap for college educated black men diminishes from 1970 to 1980, while it rises for high-school dropouts. The mating taboo accounts for most of the mean wage gap for all education levels between 1970 and 1980. In particular, the magnitude of the mating taboo declines from 1970-1980 for college graduates but increases for high-school dropouts.

Suggested Citation

  • Linda Y. Wong, 2001. "Wage Differentials and the Mating Taboo 1970-1980," Journal of Economic Insight (formerly the Journal of Economics (MVEA)), Missouri Valley Economic Association, vol. 27(1), pages 21-40.
  • Handle: RePEc:mve:journl:v:27:y:2001:i:1:p:21-40

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D10 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - General
    • J15 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Minorities, Races, Indigenous Peoples, and Immigrants; Non-labor Discrimination
    • J12 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Marriage; Marital Dissolution; Family Structure


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