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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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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
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  1. 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.
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