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For Love and Money? Earnings and Marriage Among Same-Sex Couples

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  • Michael E. Martell

    () (Bard College)

  • Peyton Nash

    () (Bard College)

Abstract

We investigate the earnings effects of marriage among same-sex couples in the United States. Gays and lesbians in the United States have only recently been allowed to enter into legally recognized marriages. As such, we know little about the impact of same-sex marriage on the economic lives of gays and lesbians. We use data from the 2013 to 2017 American Community Survey to show that married gay men experience a 3% marriage earnings premium and lesbian women experience a 6% marriage earnings premium relative to their unmarried cohabiting counterparts. The marriage premium for gay men is smaller than that of heterosexual married men, but the lesbian marriage premium is similar in size to the premium for heterosexual women. In both cases, we show that the marriage premium is larger relative to single gay men and lesbian women in the 2013 to 2017 National Health Interview Surveys. We also find that the marriage premium is more than two times larger among individuals who earn more than their partners, and marriage increases intrahousehold differences in labor market outcomes. This pattern is consistent with a common explanation of the earnings premium experienced by heterosexual men and women: marriage increases investments in relationships that affect patterns of household specialization. Therefore, our results suggest that the effect of marriage on how households organize their time is general and not unique to different-sex households.

Suggested Citation

  • Michael E. Martell & Peyton Nash, 2020. "For Love and Money? Earnings and Marriage Among Same-Sex Couples," Journal of Labor Research, Springer, vol. 41(3), pages 260-294, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:jlabre:v:41:y:2020:i:3:d:10.1007_s12122-020-09305-4
    DOI: 10.1007/s12122-020-09305-4
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    Keywords

    Marriage premium; Household specialization; Same-sex marriage; Earnings; Sexual orientation;

    JEL classification:

    • J3 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs
    • 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

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