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Why Wait?: The Effect of Marriage and Childbearing on the Wages of Men and Women

  • David S. Loughran
  • Julie M. Zissimopoulos

We use data from the earlier and later cohorts of the NLSY to estimate the effect of marriage and childbearing on wages. Our estimates imply that marriage lowers female wages 2–4 percent in the year of marriage. Marriage also lowers the wage growth of men and women by about two and four percentage points, respectively. A first birth lowers female wages 2–3 percent, but has no effect on wage growth. Male wages are unaffected by childbearing. These findings suggest that early marriage and childbearing can lead to substantial decreases in lifetime earnings.

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File URL: http://jhr.uwpress.org/cgi/reprint/44/2/326
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Article provided by University of Wisconsin Press in its journal Journal of Human Resources.

Volume (Year): 44 (2009)
Issue (Month): 2 ()
Pages:

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Handle: RePEc:uwp:jhriss:v:44:y:2009:i2:p326-349
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://jhr.uwpress.org/

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  1. David S. Loughran, 2002. "The Effect Of Male Wage Inequality On Female Age At First Marriage," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 84(2), pages 237-250, May.
  2. Dora L. Costa & Matthew E. Kahn, 1999. "Power Couples: Changes in the Locational Choice of the College Educated, 1940-1990," NBER Working Papers 7109, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Jeffrey S. Gray, 1997. "The Fall in Men's Return to Marriage: Declining Productivity Effects or Changing Selection?," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 32(3), pages 481-504.
  4. Bronars, Stephen G & Grogger, Jeff, 1994. "The Economic Consequences of Unwed Motherhood: Using Twin Births as a Natural Experiment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(5), pages 1141-56, December.
  5. Gould, Eric D & Paserman, M. Daniele, 2002. "Waiting for Mr Right: Rising Inequality and Declining Marriage Rates," CEPR Discussion Papers 3388, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  6. Deborah J. Anderson & Melissa Binder & Kate Krause, 2002. "The Motherhood Wage Penalty: Which Mothers Pay It and Why?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(2), pages 354-358, May.
  7. Akerlof, George A & Yellen, Janet L & Katz, Michael L, 1996. "An Analysis of Out-of-Wedlock Childbearing in the United States," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 111(2), pages 277-317, May.
  8. Harry A. Krashinsky, 2004. "Do Marital Status and Computer Usage Really Change the Wage Structure?," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 39(3).
  9. Elizabeth Ty Wilde & Lily Batchelder & David T. Ellwood, 2010. "The Mommy Track Divides: The Impact of Childbearing on Wages of Women of Differing Skill Levels," NBER Working Papers 16582, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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