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Marriage Meets the Joneses: Relative Income, Identity, and Marital Status

  • Tara Watson
  • Sara McLanahan

This paper investigates the effect of relative income on marriage. Accounting flexibly for absolute income, the ratio between a man’s income and a local reference group median is a strong predictor of marital status, but only for low-income men. Relative income affects marriage even among those living with a partner. A 10 percent higher reference group income is associated with a 2 percent reduction in marriage. We propose an identity model to explain the results.

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File URL: http://jhr.uwpress.org/cgi/reprint/46/3/482
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Article provided by University of Wisconsin Press in its journal Journal of Human Resources.

Volume (Year): 46 (2011)
Issue (Month): 3 ()
Pages: 482-517

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Handle: RePEc:uwp:jhriss:v:46:y:2011:iii:1:p:482-517
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://jhr.uwpress.org/

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  1. Bartik, Timothy J., 1996. "The Distributional Effects of Local Labor Demand and Industrial Mix: Estimates Using Individual Panel Data," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 40(2), pages 150-178, September.
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  12. Stevenson, Betsey & Wolfers, Justin, 2007. "Marriage and Divorce: Changes and their Driving Forces," IZA Discussion Papers 2602, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  13. Edward L. Glaeser & Joshua D. Gottlieb, 2009. "The Wealth of Cities: Agglomeration Economies and Spatial Equilibrium in the United States," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 47(4), pages 983-1028, December.
  14. Neumark, David & Postlewaite, Andrew, 1998. "Relative income concerns and the rise in married women's employment," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(1), pages 157-183, October.
  15. Kate Antonovics & Robert Town, 2004. "Are All the Good Men Married? Uncovering the Sources of the Marital Wage Premium," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(2), pages 317-321, May.
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  17. Glaeser, Edward L. & Kahn, Matthew E. & Rappaport, Jordan, 2008. "Why do the poor live in cities The role of public transportation," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 63(1), pages 1-24, January.
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