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Same-occupation spouses: preferences or search costs?

Author

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  • Hani Mansour

    (University of Colorado Denver and IZA)

  • Terra McKinnish

    (University of Colorado and IZA)

Abstract

Married individuals match with spouses who share their occupation more frequently than should happen by chance if marriage markets are large frictionless search markets covering a particular geographic area. This suggests that either there is a preference for same-occupation matches or that search costs are lower within occupation. This paper uses 2008–2015 data from the American Community Survey to analyze same-occupation matching among a sample of recently married couples. Our empirical strategy compares the difference in wages between same-occupation husbands and different-occupation husbands across occupations with different percent male workers. Under a preference explanation, this difference should become less negative as the share of males in the occupation increases. Under a search cost explanation, this difference should become more negative as the share of males increases. Our results are consistent with the search cost explanation. Furthermore, using an occupation-specific index of workplace communication, we demonstrate that the results are most consistent with the search cost mechanism for occupations with a greater degree of workplace communication. Finally, we show that matching on field of degree for couples in which both spouses have a college degree is also consistent with the search cost explanation.

Suggested Citation

  • Hani Mansour & Terra McKinnish, 2018. "Same-occupation spouses: preferences or search costs?," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 31(4), pages 1005-1033, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:jopoec:v:31:y:2018:i:4:d:10.1007_s00148-017-0670-z
    DOI: 10.1007/s00148-017-0670-z
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    1. Daniel Alan Seiver & Dennis H. Sullivan, 2020. "A Study of Major Impact: Assortative Mating and Earnings Inequality Among U.S. College Graduates," Atlantic Economic Journal, Springer;International Atlantic Economic Society, vol. 48(2), pages 237-252, June.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Marital matching; Occupation; Sex composition; Search costs;
    All these keywords.

    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

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