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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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  1. Karen Struening, 2007. "Do government sponsored marriage promotion policies place undue pressure on individual rights?," Policy Sciences, Springer, vol. 40(3), pages 241-259, September.
  2. Nicholas J. Sanders & Charles F. Stoecker, 2011. "Where Have All the Young Men Gone? Using Gender Ratios to Measure Fetal Death Rates," NBER Working Papers 17434, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Wolfgang Frimmel & Martin Halla & Rudolf Winter-Ebmer, 2013. "Assortative mating and divorce: evidence from Austrian register data," Journal of the Royal Statistical Society Series A, Royal Statistical Society, vol. 176(4), pages 907-929, October.
  4. Ai, Chunrong & Norton, Edward C., 2003. "Interaction terms in logit and probit models," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 80(1), pages 123-129, July.
  5. Stevenson, Betsey & Wolfers, Justin, 2007. "Marriage and Divorce: Changes and their Driving Forces," CEPR Discussion Papers 6144, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  6. Josef Zweimüller & Rudolf Winter-Ebmer & Rafael Lalive & Andreas Kuhn & Jean-Philippe Wuellrich & Oliver Ruf & Simon Büchi, 2009. "Austrian social security database," IEW - Working Papers 410, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
    • Josef Zweimüller & Rudolf Winter-Ebmer & Rafael Lalive & Andreas Kuhn & Jean-Philippe Wuellrich & Oliver Ruf & Simon Büchi, 2009. "Austrian Social Security Database," NRN working papers 2009-03, The Austrian Center for Labor Economics and the Analysis of the Welfare State, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria.
  7. Joshua D. Angrist & Guido W. Imbens, 1995. "Identification and Estimation of Local Average Treatment Effects," NBER Technical Working Papers 0118, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Becker, Gary S, 1974. "A Theory of Marriage: Part II," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(2), pages S11-S26, Part II, .
  9. Rebecca M. Blank, 2002. "Evaluating Welfare Reform in the United States," NBER Working Papers 8983, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Keith Finlay & David Neumark, 2008. "Is Marriage Always Good for Children? Evidence from Families Affected by Incarceration," NBER Working Papers 13928, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Gordon Dahl, 2010. "Early teen marriage and future poverty," Demography, Springer, vol. 47(3), pages 689-718, August.
  12. Robert G. Wood & Sheena McConnell & Quinn Moore & Andrew Clarkwest & JoAnn Hsueh, 2012. "The Effects of Building Strong Families: A Healthy Marriage and Relationship Skills Education Program for Unmarried Parents," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 31(2), pages 228-252, 03.
  13. Sara McLanahan, 2007. "Should government promote marriage?," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 26(4), pages 951-951.
  14. Ichino, Andrea & Winter-Ebmer, Rudolf, 1999. "Lower and upper bounds of returns to schooling: An exercise in IV estimation with different instruments," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 43(4-6), pages 889-901, April.
  15. Michael Baker & Emily Hanna & Jasmin Kantarevic, 2003. "The Married Widow: Marriage Penalties Matter!," NBER Working Papers 9782, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. 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.
  17. Paul R. Amato, 2007. "Response to Furstenberg," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 26(4), pages 961-962.
  18. 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.
  19. 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.
  20. Aaron S. Yelowitz, 1998. "Will Extending Medicaid to Two-Parent Families Encourage Marriage?," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 33(4), pages 833-865.
  21. Plamen Nikolov & Karen Gardiner & Mike Fishman, 2003. "State Policies to promote marriage," HEW 0306003, EconWPA.
  22. James Alm & Stacy Dickert-Conlin & Leslie A. Whittington, 1999. "Policy Watch: The Marriage Penalty," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 13(3), pages 193-204, Summer.
  23. Frank F. Furstenberg, 2007. "Response to Amato," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 26(4), pages 963-964.
  24. Sandra E. Black & Paul Devereux & Kjell Salvanes, 2006. "From the Cradle to the Labor Market? The Effect of Birth Weight on Adult Outcomes," CEE Discussion Papers 0061, Centre for the Economics of Education, LSE.
  25. Frank F. Furstenberg, 2007. "Should government promote marriage?," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 26(4), pages 956-960.
  26. Paul R. Amato, 2007. "Strengthening marriage is an appropriate social policy goal," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 26(4), pages 952-955.
  27. Jere R. Behrman & Mark R. Rosenzweig, 2004. "Returns to Birthweight," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 86(2), pages 586-601, May.
  28. repec:mpr:mprres:7321 is not listed on IDEAS
  29. 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.
  30. Becker, Gary S, 1973. "A Theory of Marriage: Part I," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 81(4), pages 813-46, July-Aug..
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