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Women's Income and Marriage Markets in the United States: Evidence from the Civil War Pension

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  • Laura Salisbury

Abstract

Under the Civil War pension act of 1862, the widow of a Union Army soldier was entitled to a pension if her husband died as a direct result of his military service; however, she lost her right to the pension if she remarried. I analyze the effect this had on the rate of remarriage among these widows. This study fits into a modern literature on the behavioral effects of marriage penalties. In addition, it offers a unique perspective on 19th century marriage markets, which are little understood. Using a new database compiled from widows' pension files, I estimate the effect of the pension on the hazard rate of remarriage using variation in pension processing times. Taking steps to account for the potential endogeneity of processing times to marital outcomes, I find that receiving a pension lowered the hazard rate of remarriage by 25 percent, which implies an increase in the median time to remarriage of 3.5 years. Among older women and women with children, this effect is substantially greater. This indicates that women were willing to substitute away from marriage if the alternatives were favorable enough, suggesting that changes in the desirability of marriage to women may account for some of the aggregate patterns of first marriage documented for this period.

Suggested Citation

  • Laura Salisbury, 2014. "Women's Income and Marriage Markets in the United States: Evidence from the Civil War Pension," NBER Working Papers 20201, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:20201
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    Cited by:

    1. Shari Eli & Laura Salisbury & Allison Shertzer, 2016. "Migration Responses to Conflict: Evidence from the Border of the American Civil War," NBER Working Papers 22591, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Richard Chisik, 2015. "Job market signalling, stereotype threat and counter-stereotypical behaviour," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 48(1), pages 155-188, February.
    3. Eli, Shari & Salisbury, Laura, 2016. "Patronage Politics and the Development of the Welfare State: Confederate Pensions in the American South," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 76(04), pages 1078-1112, December.
    4. Dora L. Costa & Heather DeSomer & Eric Hanss & Christopher Roudiez & Sven E. Wilson & Noelle Yetter, 2017. "Union Army veterans, all grown up," Historical Methods: A Journal of Quantitative and Interdisciplinary History, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 50(2), pages 79-95, April.
    5. You, Jing & Yi, Xuejie & Chen, Meng, 2016. "Love, Life, and “Leftover Ladies” in Urban China," MPRA Paper 70494, University Library of Munich, Germany.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J1 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics
    • J12 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Marriage; Marital Dissolution; Family Structure
    • J18 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Public Policy
    • N31 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - U.S.; Canada: Pre-1913

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