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How Do Marital Status, Wage Rates, and Work Commitment Interact?

  • Ahituv, Avner

    ()

    (University of Haifa)

  • Lerman, Robert I.

    ()

    (Urban Institute)

How marriage interacts with men's earnings is an important public policy issue, given debates over programs to directly encourage healthy marriages. This paper generates new findings about the earnings-marriage relationship by estimating the linkages between marriage, work commitment, and wage rates. Unlike other studies of the marital wage premium for men, we examine how marital status and marital transitions affect hours worked as well as wage rates, take account of the feedback effect on wage rates and earnings associated with marriage effects on hours worked, estimate marriage effects on black and low skill men, control for several dimensions of selection, and follow men from age 17-40. We find that marriage increases men's earnings by about 20 percent and also find a rise in wage rates and hours worked increases marriage. These findings suggest that both marriage-enhancing and earnings-enhancing policies can set off a virtuous circle, in which marriage and earnings reinforce each other over time. Unmarried men who appear unable to support a family because of low current earnings are likely to become more adequate breadwinners once they marry. Thus, if proposed programs are able to increase the utility from and appreciation of marriage, they are likely to generate earnings gains for men as an important side effect.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 1688.

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Length: 45 pages
Date of creation: Jul 2005
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: Demography, 2007, 44 (3), 623-647
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp1688
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  1. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521818551 is not listed on IDEAS
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  17. Lerman, Robert I, 1996. "The Impact of the Changing US Family Structure on Child Poverty and Income Inequality," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 63(250), pages S119-39, Suppl..
  18. Donna Ginther & Madeline Zavodny, 1998. "Is the male marriage premium due to selection? The effect of shotgun weddings on the return to marriage," Working Paper 97-5, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
  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. 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.
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