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Selection and Specialization in the Evolution of Marriage Earnings Gaps

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  • Chinhui Juhn
  • Kristin McCue

Abstract

We examine changes in marriage and earnings patterns across four cohorts born between 1936 and 1975, using data from a series of Survey of Income and Program Participation panels linked to administrative data on earnings. We find that for both men and women, marriage has become increasingly positively associated with education and earnings potential. We compare ordinary least squares (OLS) and fixed effect (FE) estimates of the earnings differential associated with marriage. We find that the marriage earnings gap fell for women in fixed-effect estimates implying that the impact of specialization has diminished over time. We also find that increasingly positive selection into marriage means that OLS estimates overstate the reduction in the marriage earnings gap. While our findings imply that marriage is no longer associated with lower earnings among women without minor children in our most recent cohort, the motherhood gap remains large. Among men, we find that the marriage premium actually increases for more recent birth cohorts in fixed-effects regressions.

Suggested Citation

  • Chinhui Juhn & Kristin McCue, 2015. "Selection and Specialization in the Evolution of Marriage Earnings Gaps," Working Papers 15-36, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  • Handle: RePEc:cen:wpaper:15-36
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J12 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Marriage; Marital Dissolution; Family Structure
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
    • J22 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Time Allocation and Labor Supply
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials

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