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Can Pro-Marriage Policies Work? An Analysis of Marginal Marriages

  • Wolfgang Frimmel
  • Martin Halla
  • Rudolf Winter-Ebmer

Policies to promote marriage are controversial, and it is unclear whether they are successful. To analyze such policies, it is essential to distinguish between a marriage that is created by a marriage-promoting policy (marginal marriage) and a marriage that would have been formed even in the absence of a state intervention (average marriage). In this paper, we exploit the suspension of a cash-on-hand marriage subsidy in Austria to examine the differential behavior of marginal and average marriages. The announcement of this suspension led to an enormous marriage boom (plus 350 percent) among eligible couples that allows us to identify marginal marriages. Applying a difference-in-differences approach, we show that marginal marriages are surprisingly as stable as average marriages, but have fewer children and have them later in marriage. Notably, the children born to marginal marriages are similar in terms of health at birth.

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File URL: http://www.econ.jku.at/papers/2012/wp1209.pdf
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Paper provided by Department of Economics, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria in its series Economics working papers with number 2012-09.

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Length: 36 pages
Date of creation: Jul 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:jku:econwp:2012_09
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Web page: http://www.econ.jku.at/

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  7. Sara McLanahan, 2007. "Should government promote marriage?," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 26(4), pages 951-951.
  8. Wolfgang Frimmel & Gerald J. Pruckner, 2011. "Birth weight and family status revisited: evidence from Austrian register data," NRN working papers 2011-18, The Austrian Center for Labor Economics and the Analysis of the Welfare State, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria.
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  17. Michael Baker & Emily Hanna & Jasmin Kantarevic, 2003. "The Married Widow: Marriage Penalties Matter!," NBER Working Papers 9782, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  23. Niko Matouschek & Imran Rasul, 2008. "The Economics of the Marriage Contract: Theories and Evidence," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 51(1), pages 59-110, 02.
  24. Frimmel, Wolfgang & Halla, Martin & Winter-Ebmer, Rudolf, 2009. "Assortative Mating and Divorce: Evidence from Austrian Register Data," IZA Discussion Papers 4446, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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  28. Douglas Almond & Janet Currie, 2011. "Killing Me Softly: The Fetal Origins Hypothesis," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 25(3), pages 153-72, Summer.
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  30. Leslie A. Whittington & James Alm, 1997. "'Til Death or Taxes Do Us Part: The Effect of Income Taxation on Divorce," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 32(2), pages 388-412.
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