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What Accounts for the Increase in the Number of Single Households?

Author

Listed:
  • Jose-Victor Rios-Rull

    (University of Minnesota, Minneapolis FED, CAERP, CEPR, NBER)

  • Jacob Short

    (University of Minnesota)

  • Ferdinando Regalia

    (IADB)

Abstract

Between the mid 1970's and the beginning of the 2000's the share of single females grew dramatically in the U.S. (from 21% to 32%). So did the share of single mothers (from 10% to 14%). At the same time relative wages within and between sexes underwent huge changes. In this paper we measure the contribution that changes in relative wages had in accounting for these and other demographic facts. We construct a model where agents differ in sex, take marital status and fertility decisions and invest in their children's human capital. Our fi ndings show that changes in relative earnings potential account for: i) almost ninety percent of the observed change in the share of single women, and ii) all the observed change in the share of single mothers, with a sharper increase among poor women. This occurs mainly through a drop in the model economy marriage rate that mimics the pattern found in the data.

Suggested Citation

  • Jose-Victor Rios-Rull & Jacob Short & Ferdinando Regalia, 2010. "What Accounts for the Increase in the Number of Single Households?," 2010 Meeting Papers 995, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  • Handle: RePEc:red:sed010:995
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Gary S. Becker & Kevin M. Murphy & Robert Tamura, 1994. "Human Capital, Fertility, and Economic Growth," NBER Chapters, in: Human Capital: A Theoretical and Empirical Analysis with Special Reference to Education, Third Edition, pages 323-350, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Keane, Michael P & Wolpin, Kenneth I, 1997. "The Career Decisions of Young Men," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 105(3), pages 473-522, June.
    3. Williamson Hoyne, Hilary, 1997. "Does welfare play any role in female headship decisions?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 65(2), pages 89-117, August.
    4. Ellwood, David T & Crane, Jonathan, 1990. "Family Change among Black Americans: What Do We Know?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 4(4), pages 65-84, Fall.
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    Cited by:

    1. Jochen Mankart & Rigas Oikonomou, 2017. "Household Search and the Aggregate Labour Market," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 84(4), pages 1735-1788.
    2. Paula GOBBI, 2013. "Childcare and Commitment within Households," LIDAM Discussion Papers IRES 2013019, Université catholique de Louvain, Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales (IRES).
    3. Gobbi, Paula E., 2018. "Childcare and commitment within households," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 176(C), pages 503-551.
    4. Alessio MORO & Solmaz MOSLEHI & Satoshi TANAKA, 2017. "Marriage and Economic Development in the Twentieth Century," JODE - Journal of Demographic Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 83(4), pages 379-420, December.
    5. Thomas Baudin & David de la Croix & Paula E. Gobbi, 2015. "Fertility and Childlessness in the United States," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 105(6), pages 1852-1882, June.
    6. David Weiss & Cezar Santos, 2011. "Why Not Settle Down Already? A Quantitative Question," 2011 Meeting Papers 921, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    7. Shintaro Yamaguchi & Claudia Ruiz & Maurizio Mazzocco, 2014. "Labor Supply, Wealth Dynamics and Marriage Decisions," 2014 Meeting Papers 210, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    8. Naoki TAKAYAMA, 2017. "Living Arrangements and Family Formation in Japan," ESRI Discussion paper series 340, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI).
    9. Andrew Shephard, 2019. "Marriage market dynamics, gender, and the age gap," PIER Working Paper Archive 19-003, Penn Institute for Economic Research, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania.
    10. Shannon Seitz & Jose-Victor Rios-Rull & Satoshi Tanaka, 2013. "Sex Ratios and Long-Term Marriage Trends," 2013 Meeting Papers 1349, Society for Economic Dynamics.

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