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Marital Status and Productivity: Evidence from Personnel Data


  • Stephen L. Mehay

    () (Naval Postgraduate School)

  • William R. Bowman

    (Department of Economics, U.S. Naval Academy)


Although a robust wage premium for married men has been documented extensively in the labor economics literature, prior studies have been hampered in testing competing explanations of the premium by a lack of data on worker productivity. This study exploits a unique data set that contains job-performance measures for employees of a large, hierarchical organization. The quasi-longitudinal data track the marital status and job productivity, including performance reviews and promotions, of male Naval officers in technical and managerial jobs. Compared with single men, married men receive significantly higher performance ratings and are more likely to be promoted. In estimates that control for selection arising from quit decisions, the size of the marriage productivity effect falls but in most cases remains robust. Also, based on supplementary tests, selectivity arising from the decision to marry appears to explain only a small portion of the unadjusted marriage premium for Navy officers.

Suggested Citation

  • Stephen L. Mehay & William R. Bowman, 2005. "Marital Status and Productivity: Evidence from Personnel Data," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 72(1), pages 63-77, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:sej:ancoec:v:72:1:y:2005:p:63-77

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J12 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Marriage; Marital Dissolution; Family Structure
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • J41 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Labor Contracts


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