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The Married Widow: Marriage Penalties Matter!

  • Michael Baker
  • Emily Hanna
  • Jasmin Kantarevic

Marriage penalties are a controversial feature of many government policies. Empirical evidence of their behavioral effects is quite mixed. This is surprising because economic theory predicts that they should have an impact on the headship decision. We investigate the removal of marriage penalties from the surviving spouse pensions of the Canadian public pension system in the 1980s. These reforms provide a simple and transparent source of identification. Our results indicate that marriage penalties can have large and persistent effects on marriage decisions. We also present evidence suggesting that it is individuals with characteristics correlated with greater wealth who respond to the penalties.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w9782.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 9782.

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Date of creation: Jun 2003
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Publication status: published as Michael Baker & Emily Hanna & Jasmin Kantarevic, 2004. "The Married Widow: Marriage Penalties Matter!," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 2(4), pages 634-664, 06.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:9782
Note: AG LS PR
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  1. 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.
  2. Gary Solon, 1983. "Estimating Autocorrelations in Fixed-Effects Models," Working Papers 540, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  3. Michael Baker, 1999. "The Retirement Behavior of Married Couples: Evidence From the Spouse's Allowance," Working Papers baker-99-01, University of Toronto, Department of Economics.
  4. Gelardi, Alexander M.G., 1996. "The Influence of Tax Law Changes on the Timing of Marriages: A Two-Country Analysis," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 49(1), pages 17-30, March.
  5. Jonathan Gruber, 2000. "Disability Insurance Benefits and Labor Supply," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 108(6), pages 1162-1183, December.
  6. Marianne Bitler & Jonah Gelbach & Hilary Hoynes & Madeline Zavodny, 2004. "The impact of welfare reform on marriage and divorce," Demography, Springer, vol. 41(2), pages 213-236, May.
  7. Thomas J. Nechyba, 2001. "Social Approval, Values, and AFDC: A Reexamination of the Illegitimacy Debate," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 109(3), pages 637-666, June.
  8. Alm, James & Whittington, Leslie A., 1995. "Does the Income Tax Affect Marital Decisions?," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 48(4), pages 565-72, December.
  9. Stacy Dickert-Conlin & Amitabh Chandra, 1999. "Taxes and the Timing of Birth," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(1), pages 161-177, February.
  10. Robert Moffitt, 1994. "Welfare Effects on Female Headship with Area Effects," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 29(2), pages 621-636.
  11. Heisz, Andrew & Corak, Miles, 1999. "Death and Divorce: The Long-term Consequences of Parental Loss on Adolescents," Analytical Studies Branch Research Paper Series 1999135e, Statistics Canada, Analytical Studies Branch.
  12. Martin D. Dooley & Stéphane Gascon & Pierre Lefebvre & Philip Merrigan, 2000. "Lone Female Headship and Welfare Policy in Canada," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 35(3), pages 587-602.
  13. Sjoquist, David L. & Walker, Mary Beth, 1995. "The Marriage Tax and the Rate and Timing of Marriage," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 48(4), pages 547-58, December.
  14. Francine D. Blau & Lawrence M. Kahn & FJane Waldfogel, 2004. "The Impact of Welfare Benefits on Single Motherhood and Headship of Young Women: Evidence from the Census," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 39(2).
  15. Moffitt, Robert, 1992. "Incentive Effects of the U.S. Welfare System: A Review," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 30(1), pages 1-61, March.
  16. Robert Moffitt & Robert Reville & Anne Winkler, 1998. "Beyond single mothers: Cohabitation and marriage in the AFDC program," Demography, Springer, vol. 35(3), pages 259-278, August.
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