IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

Male Wage Inequality and Marital Dissolution: Is There a Link?

  • Bellou, Andriana


    (University of Montreal)

After almost a century-long pattern of rising marital instability, divorce rates leveled off in 1980 and have been declining ever since. The timing of deceleration and decline in the rates of marital disruption interestingly coincides with a period of substantial growth in wage inequality. This paper establishes a connection between the two phenomena and explores potential explanations for the underlying link. Using individual data on female marital histories in a duration analysis framework combined with regional and temporal variation in the pattern of male wage dispersion, I show that inequality has a significant stabilizing effect on the marital relationship. Quantitatively, increases in male wage dispersion can roughly explain up to 30% of the fall in the mean separation probability between 1979 and 1990. Several plausible explanations for this relationship are assessed: changes in spousal labor supplies, female wage inequality, income uncertainty, social capital as well as a hypothesis of "on-the-marriage" search. The results are most supportive of the search interpretation. No strong quantitative support was found for the remaining mechanisms.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 7331.

in new window

Length: 52 pages
Date of creation: Apr 2013
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp7331
Contact details of provider: Postal: IZA, P.O. Box 7240, D-53072 Bonn, Germany
Phone: +49 228 3894 223
Fax: +49 228 3894 180
Web page:

Order Information: Postal: IZA, Margard Ody, P.O. Box 7240, D-53072 Bonn, Germany

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Frankel, D.M., 1996. "The (Retail) Price of Inequality," Papers 23-96, Tel Aviv.
  2. Hey, John D & McKenna, Chris J, 1979. "To Move or Not to Move?," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 46(182), pages 175-85, May.
  3. Gregory D. Hess, 2001. "Marriage and consumption insurance: what's love got to do with it?," Working Paper 0104, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.
  4. Betsey Stevenson & Justin Wolfers, 2007. "Marriage and divorce: changes and their driving forces," Working Paper Series 2007-03, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
  5. Kerwin Kofi Charles & Melvin Stephens, 2004. "Job Displacement, Disability, and Divorce," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 22(2), pages 489-522, April.
  6. Brigitte C. Madrian & Lars John Lefgren, 1999. "A Note on Longitudinally Matching Current Population Survey (CPS) Respondents," NBER Technical Working Papers 0247, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Joshua Goldstein, 1999. "The leveling of divorce in the united states," Demography, Springer, vol. 36(3), pages 409-414, August.
  8. Dora L. Costa & Matthew E. Kahn, 2003. "Understanding the American Decline in Social Capital, 1952--1998," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 56(1), pages 17-46, February.
  9. repec:oup:qjecon:v:112:y:1997:i:4:p:1251-88 is not listed on IDEAS
  10. Johnson, William R & Skinner, Jonathan, 1986. "Labor Supply and Marital Separation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(3), pages 455-69, June.
  11. Becker, Gary S & Landes, Elisabeth M & Michael, Robert T, 1977. "An Economic Analysis of Marital Instability," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 85(6), pages 1141-87, December.
  12. Terra G. McKinnish, 2007. "Sexually Integrated Workplaces and Divorce: Another Form of On-the-Job Search," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 42(2).
  13. Eric D. Gould & Bruce A. Weinberg & David B. Mustard, 2002. "Crime Rates And Local Labor Market Opportunities In The United States: 1979-1997," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 84(1), pages 45-61, February.
  14. repec:oup:qjecon:v:121:y:2006:i:1:p:289-320 is not listed on IDEAS
  15. Chiswick, Carmel U & Lehrer, Evelyn L, 1990. "On Marriage-Specific Human Capital: Its Role as a Determinant of Remarriage," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 3(3), pages 193-213, October.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp7331. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Mark Fallak)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.