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Common Law Marriage and Male/Female Convergence in Labor Supply and Time Use


  • Grossbard, Shoshana

    () (San Diego State University)

  • Vernon, Victoria

    () (Empire State College)


Does availability of common law marriage (CLM henceforth) in the U.S help explain variation in the labor force participation, hours of work and hours of household production of men and women over time and across states? As CLM offers more legal protection to household producers at the margin between single status and marriage, we expect it to discourage labor supply and encourage household production on the part of household producers who are married or cohabit. In the context of traditional gender roles this implies a negative association between availability of CLM and the labor supply of women who are either married or cohabit. Also assuming traditional gender roles, men are then expected to work more in the labor force when CLM is available. We analyze micro data from CPS-iPums for the period 1995-2011 to investigate labor outcomes and from the ATUS for the period 2003-11 to study effects on household production and total hours of work. Labor supply effects of CLM availability are almost always negative for cohabiting and married women, and sometimes also for single women. The effects of CLM on men's labor supply tend to be negative when samples include all men aged 18-35. However, for the groups that we identified as most likely to be affected by CLM availability – the youngest white men w/o college education – we find positive effects. Married non-black men and women and work less in home production under CLM.

Suggested Citation

  • Grossbard, Shoshana & Vernon, Victoria, 2014. "Common Law Marriage and Male/Female Convergence in Labor Supply and Time Use," IZA Discussion Papers 7937, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp7937

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Chiappori, Pierre-André & Iyigun, Murat & Lafortune, Jeanne & Weiss, Yoram, 2011. "Are Intra-Household Allocations Policy Neutral? Theory and Empirical Evidence," IZA Discussion Papers 5594, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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    Cited by:

    1. Shoshana Grossbard, 2016. "Should common law marriage be abolished?," IZA World of Labor, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA), pages 256-256, May.

    More about this item


    law and economics; marriage; labor supply; household production;

    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
    • K36 - Law and Economics - - Other Substantive Areas of Law - - - Family and Personal Law

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