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Is Marriage Poisonous? Are Relationships Taxing? An Analysis of the Male Marital Wage Differential in Denmark

  • Datta Gupta, Nabanita

    ()

    (Aarhus University)

  • Smith, Nina

    ()

    (Aarhus University)

  • Stratton, Leslie S.

    ()

    (Virginia Commonwealth University)

The word for 'married' in Danish is the same as the word for 'poison'. The word for 'sweetheart' in Danish is the same as the word for 'tax'. In this paper we expand upon the literature documenting a significant marital wage premium for men in the United States to see if a similar differential exists for married men in Denmark - or if the homonyms have perhaps less of a double meaning. Unlike most other research in this area, our study is based on a large panel sample with complete relationship histories, consisting of about 35,000 young Danish men observed before and after their first marriage or cohabitation during the years 1984-2001. Since the majority of young Danes cohabit before they marry, if they ever marry, cohabitation is allowed for as a separate state. Pooled OLS estimates indicate a marital wage premium of 4-5%, which drops to 2% after controlling for selectivity. The cohabitation premium is found to be of the same size as the marital wage premium. Our results indicate that a part of the marriage or cohabitation premium is not due to marriage or cohabitation itself, but to fatherhood. When information on becoming a father and years spent in fatherhood is added to the empirical model, the results show that fathers receive a 'fatherhood' premium during their first few years as fathers and that the initial marital wage premium is reduced.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 1591.

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Length: 29 pages
Date of creation: May 2005
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: Southern Economic Journal, 2007, 74 (2), 412-433
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp1591
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  1. Daniel, K., 1991. "Does Marriage Make Men More Productive?," University of Chicago - Economics Research Center 92-2, Chicago - Economics Research Center.
  2. Schettkat, Ronald, 2002. "Differences in US-German time-allocation: Why do Americans work longer hours than Germans?," Discussion Papers, Research Unit: Labor Market Policy and Employment FS I 02-212, Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB).
  3. Schoeni, R.F., 1996. "Marital Status and Earnings in Developed Countries," Papers 96-14, RAND - Reprint Series.
  4. Rodgers III, William M. & Stratton, Leslie S., 2005. "The Male Marital Wage Differential: Race, Training, and Fixed Effects," IZA Discussion Papers 1745, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  5. Gunnar Isacsson, 2004. "Estimating the economic return to educational levels using data on twins," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 19(1), pages 99-119.
  6. Ribar, David C., 2004. "What Do Social Scientists Know About the Benefits of Marriage? A Review of Quantitative Methodologies," IZA Discussion Papers 998, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  7. Jacobsen, Joyce P & Rayack, Wendy L, 1996. "Do Men Whose Wives Work Really Earn Less?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(2), pages 268-73, May.
  8. Callan, T. & Dex, S. & Smith, N. & Vlasblom, J.D., 1999. "Taxation of Spouses: a Cross-Country Study of the Effects on Maaried Women's Labour Supply," Papers 99-02, Centre for Labour Market and Social Research, Danmark-.
  9. Sanders Korenman & David Neumark, 1991. "Does Marriage Really Make Men More Productive?," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 26(2), pages 282-307.
  10. Joni Hersch & Leslie S. Stratton, 2000. "Household Specialization and the Male Marriage Wage Premium," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 54(1), pages 78-94, October.
  11. Chun, Hyunbae & Lee, Injae, 2001. "Why Do Married Men Earn More: Productivity or Marriage Selection?," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 39(2), pages 307-19, April.
  12. Naur, M. & Smith, N., 1996. "Cohort Effects on the Gender Wage Gape in Danmark," Papers 96-05, Centre for Labour Market and Social Research, Danmark-.
  13. 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.
  14. Datta Gupta, Nabanita & Smith, Nina, 2001. "Children and Career Interruptions: The Family Gap in Denmark," IZA Discussion Papers 263, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  15. Cornwell, Christopher & Rupert, Peter, 1997. "Unobservable Individual Effects, Marriage and the Earnings of Young Men," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 35(2), pages 285-94, April.
  16. Donna K. Ginther & Madeline Zavodny, 2001. "Is the male marriage premium due to selection? The effect of shotgun weddings on the return to marriage," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 14(2), pages 313-328.
  17. Robert A. Nakosteen & Michael A. Zimmer, 1987. "Marital Status and Earnings of Young Men: A Model with Endogenous Selection," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 22(2), pages 248-268.
  18. Eng Seng Loh, 1996. "Productivity Differences and the Marriage Wage Premium for White Males," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 31(3), pages 566-589.
  19. Leslie S. Stratton, 2002. "Examining the Wage Differential for Married and Cohabiting Men," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 40(2), pages 199-212, April.
  20. Florence Jaumotte, 2003. "Female Labour Force Participation: Past Trends and Main Determinants in OECD Countries," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 376, OECD Publishing.
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