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Who Marries Differently-Aged Spouses? Earnings, Ability and Appearance

  • Mansour, Hani

    ()

    (University of Colorado Denver)

  • McKinnish, Terra

    ()

    (University of Colorado, Boulder)

In direct contrast to conventional wisdom and most economic models of gender differences in age of marriage, we present robust evidence that men and women who are married to differently-aged spouses are negatively selected. Earnings analysis of married couples in the 1960, 1970, 1980, 1990 and 2000 Decennial Censuses finds that male earnings decrease with within-couple age difference, regardless of whether the man is older or younger than his wife. In contrast, female earnings increase with within-couple age difference, but this is due to the fact that women with differently-aged spouses work more hours not because they command higher wages. We test for negative selection into differently-aged couples using three measures: average earnings per hour in occupation using Census data, cognitive skills assessments from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979 cohort (NLSY79), and measures of physical appearance from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health). The point estimates indicate negative selection on all of these characteristics, although statistical significance varies by outcome and sample.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 6678.

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Length: 42 pages
Date of creation: Jun 2012
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: Review of Economics and Statistics, 2014, 96(3), 577-580
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp6678
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  1. Betsey Stevenson & Justin Wolfers, 2007. "Marriage and Divorce: Changes and their Driving Forces," NBER Working Papers 12944, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Hans Bloemen & Elena Stancanelli, 2008. "Modelling the employment and wage outcomes of spouses: is she outearning him?," Sciences Po publications info:hdl:2441/9665, Sciences Po.
  3. Aloysius Siow, 1996. "Differential Fecundity, Markets and Gender Roles," Working Papers siow-96-01, University of Toronto, Department of Economics.
  4. Pierre-André Chiappori & Sonia Oreffice & Climent Quintana-Domeque, 2012. "Matching with a Handicap: The Case of Smoking in the Marriage Market," CHILD Working Papers Series 8, Centre for Household, Income, Labour and Demographic Economics (CHILD) - CCA.
  5. Coles, Melvyn & Francesconi, Marco, 2007. "On the Emergence of Toyboys: Equilibrium Matching with Ageing and Uncertain Careers," IZA Discussion Papers 2612, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  6. Hamermesh, Daniel S. & Abrevaya, Jason, 2011. ""Beauty Is the Promise of Happiness"?," IZA Discussion Papers 5600, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  7. Grossbard-Shechtman, Shoshana Amyra & Neuman, Shoshana, 1988. "Women's Labor Supply and Marital Choice," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 96(6), pages 1294-1302, December.
  8. French, Michael T. & Robins, Philip K. & Homer, Jenny F. & Tapsell, Lauren M., 2009. "Effects of physical attractiveness, personality, and grooming on academic performance in high school," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 16(4), pages 373-382, August.
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