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Marital Sorting and Parental Wealth

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  • Kerwin Kofi Charles
  • Erik Hurst
  • Alexandra Killewald

Abstract

Using data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID), this paper studies the degree to which spouses sort in the marriage market on the basis of parental wealth. We estimate a variety of models, including transition matrices, OLS and TSLS models to deal with measurement error in wealth reports. Our various results show that men and women in the U.S. marry spouses whose parents have wealth similar to that of their own parents; and are very unlikely to marry persons from very different parental wealth backgrounds. This effect is present in the population as a whole, within racial groups, and especially in the tails of the distribution. Our preferred estimates indicate that the correlation in log wealth between own and spouse's parents wealth is around 0.4. We show that education accounts for only one-quarter of this sorting, and also show that selection into and out marriage by parental wealth does not appreciably bias our results.

Suggested Citation

  • Kerwin Kofi Charles & Erik Hurst & Alexandra Killewald, 2011. "Marital Sorting and Parental Wealth," NBER Working Papers 16748, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:16748 Note: AG EFG LS PE
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Raquel Fernández & Richard Rogerson, 2001. "Sorting and Long-Run Inequality," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 116(4), pages 1305-1341.
    2. Kerwin Kofi Charles & Erik Hurst, 2003. "The Correlation of Wealth across Generations," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 111(6), pages 1155-1182, December.
    3. Lillard, L.A. & Waite, L.J., 1993. "'Til Death Do Us Part: Marital Disruption and Mortality," Papers 93-10, RAND - Labor and Population Program.
    4. Barsky R. & Bound J. & Charles K.K. & Lupton J.P., 2002. "Accounting for the Black-White Wealth Gap: A Nonparametric Approach," Journal of the American Statistical Association, American Statistical Association, vol. 97, pages 663-673, September.
    5. Becker, Gary S, 1973. "A Theory of Marriage: Part I," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 81(4), pages 813-846, July-Aug..
    6. Solon, Gary, 1992. "Intergenerational Income Mobility in the United States," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(3), pages 393-408, June.
    7. Saul Hoffman & Greg Duncan, 1988. "What are the economic consequences of divorce?," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 25(4), pages 641-645, November.
    8. Michael Kremer, 1997. "How Much does Sorting Increase Inequality?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(1), pages 115-139.
    9. Zimmerman, David J, 1992. "Regression toward Mediocrity in Economic Stature," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(3), pages 409-429, June.
    10. David Lam, 1988. "Marriage Markets and Assortative Mating with Household Public Goods: Theoretical Results and Empirical Implications," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 23(4), pages 462-487.
    11. Chun, Hyunbae & Lee, Injae, 2001. "Why Do Married Men Earn More: Productivity or Marriage Selection?," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 39(2), pages 307-319, April.
    12. Pencavel, John, 1998. "Assortative Mating by Schooling and the Work Behavior of Wives and Husbands," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(2), pages 326-329, May.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Arnaud Dupuy & Alfred Galichon, 2014. "Personality Traits and the Marriage Market," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 122(6), pages 1271-1319.
    2. Edwards, Ryan D. & Roff, Jennifer, 2016. "What mom and dad’s match means for junior: Marital sorting and child outcomes," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 40(C), pages 43-56.
    3. Frank Cowell & Dirk Van de gaer, 2017. "Condorcet was Wrong, Pareto was Right: Families, Inheritance and Inequality," STICERD - Public Economics Programme Discussion Papers 34, Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines, LSE.
    4. repec:spr:demogr:v:54:y:2017:i:3:d:10.1007_s13524-017-0572-4 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Abigail Weitzman & Dalton Conley, 2014. "From Assortative to Ashortative Coupling: Men's Height, Height Heterogamy, and Relationship Dynamics in the United States," NBER Working Papers 20402, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Santiago Pereda Fernández, 2016. "Copula-based random effects models for clustered data," Temi di discussione (Economic working papers) 1092, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.
    7. Black, Sandra E. & Devereux, Paul J. & Lundborg, Petter & Majlesi, Kaveh, 2015. "Poor Little Rich Kids? The Determinants of the Intergenerational Transmission of Wealth," IZA Discussion Papers 9227, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    8. Luc Arrondel & Nicolas Frémeaux, 2013. ""For richer, for poorer": savings preferences and choice of spouse," PSE Working Papers halshs-00786245, HAL.
    9. Yang Hu, 2016. "Marriage of matching doors: Marital sorting on parental background in China," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 35(20), pages 557-580, August.
    10. Nikolai Roussanov & Pavel G. Savor, 2012. "Status, Marriage, and Managers' Attitudes To Risk," NBER Working Papers 17904, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. repec:spo:wpecon:info:hdl:2441/7o52iohb7k6srk09mj4j5amb8 is not listed on IDEAS
    12. Joni Hersch, 2013. "Opting out among women with elite education," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 11(4), pages 469-506, December.
    13. Hällsten, Martin & Pfeffer, Fabian T., 2017. "Grand advantage: family wealth and grandchildren's educational achievement in Sweden," Working Paper Series 2017:3, IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy.
    14. Jorge M. Agüero & Maithili Ramachandran, 2016. "The Intergenerational Transmission of Schooling among the Education-Rationed," Working papers 2016-25, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J12 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Marriage; Marital Dissolution; Family Structure

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