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“Why Not Settle Down Already?” A Quantitative Analysis of the Delay in Marriage

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  • Santos, Cezar
  • Weiss, David

Abstract

One of the most striking changes in American society in the last forty years has been the decline and delay in marriage. The fraction of young men and women who have never been married increased significantly between 1970 and 2000. Idiosyncratic labor income volatility also increased over the same period. This paper establishes a quantitatively important link between these two facts. Specifically, if marriage involves consumption commitments, then a rise in income volatility results in a delay in marriage. Marriage, however, also allows for diversification of income risk since earnings fluctuations between spouses need not be perfectly correlated. We assess the hypothesis that rising income volatility contributed to the delay in marriage vis-à-vis other explanations in the literature, using an estimated equilibrium search model of the marriage market. We find that the increase in volatility accounts for about 26% of the observed delay in marriage. Thus, we find that the effects of consumption commitments due to increased income volatility outweigh the effects of the insurance gains provided by spouses.

Suggested Citation

  • Santos, Cezar & Weiss, David, 2014. "“Why Not Settle Down Already?” A Quantitative Analysis of the Delay in Marriage," Foerder Institute for Economic Research Working Papers 275796, Tel-Aviv University > Foerder Institute for Economic Research.
  • Handle: RePEc:ags:isfiwp:275796
    DOI: 10.22004/ag.econ.275796
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    Cited by:

    1. William A.V. Clark & Daichun Yi, 2020. "Transitions to partnership and parenthood: Is China still traditional?," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 43(6), pages 143-168.
    2. Salvador Ortigueira & Nawid Siassi, . "The U.S. Tax-Transfer System and Low-Income Households: Savings, Labor Supply, and Household Formation," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics.
    3. Hye Mi You, 2018. "Marriage, Working Spouses, and Male Wage Volatility," Korean Economic Review, Korean Economic Association, vol. 34, pages 101-115.
    4. Jeremy Greenwood & Nezih Guner & Karen A. Kopecky, 2019. "The Wife's Protector: A Quantitative Theory Linking Contraceptive Technology with the Decline in Marriage," Working Papers wp2019_1912, CEMFI.
    5. Nawid Siassi, 2019. "Inequality and the Marriage Gap," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 31, pages 160-181, January.
    6. Brotherhood, Luiz & Delalibera, Bruno R., 2020. "Minding the gap between schools and universities," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 120(C).
    7. Nezih Guner & Christopher Rauh & Elizabeth Caucutt, 2017. "Is Marriage for White People? Incarceration and the Racial Marriage Divide," 2017 Meeting Papers 779, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    8. Sommer, Kamila, 2016. "Fertility choice in a life cycle model with idiosyncratic uninsurable earnings risk," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 83(C), pages 27-38.
    9. Fabio Blasutto & Egor Kozlov, 2020. "(Changing) Marriage and Cohabitation Patterns in the US: do Divorce Laws Matter?," 2020 Papers pbl245, Job Market Papers.
    10. Marcel Fischer & Natalia Khorunzhina, 2019. "Housing Decision With Divorce Risk," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 60(3), pages 1263-1290, August.
    11. Chiara L. Comolli & Daniele Vignoli, 2019. "Spread-ing uncertainty, shrinking birth rates," Econometrics Working Papers Archive 2019_08, Universita' degli Studi di Firenze, Dipartimento di Statistica, Informatica, Applicazioni "G. Parenti".
    12. Salvador Ortigueira & Nawid Siassi, . "The U.S. Tax-Transfer System and Low-Income Households: Savings, Labor Supply, and Household Formation," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics.
    13. Elyakim Kislev, 2020. "Social Capital, Happiness, and the Unmarried: a Multilevel Analysis of 32 European Countries," Applied Research in Quality of Life, Springer;International Society for Quality-of-Life Studies, vol. 15(5), pages 1475-1492, November.
    14. Pavel Jelnov, 2018. "A New Estimator of Search Duration and Its Application to the Marriage Market," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 80(6), pages 1089-1116, December.
    15. Fabio Blasutto, 2020. "Cohabitation vs Marriage: Mating Strategies by Education in the USA," LIDAM Discussion Papers IRES 2020023, Université catholique de Louvain, Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales (IRES).
    16. Elyakim Kislev, 0. "Social Capital, Happiness, and the Unmarried: a Multilevel Analysis of 32 European Countries," Applied Research in Quality of Life, Springer;International Society for Quality-of-Life Studies, vol. 0, pages 1-18.
    17. Grey Gordon, 2019. "Efficient Computation with Taste Shocks," Working Paper 19-15, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond.

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