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The Distribution of Returns to Marriage

  • Maasoumi, Esfandiar



  • Millimet, Daniel



  • Sarkar, Dipanwita



The phenomenon that married men earn a higher wage on average than unmarried men, the so-called marriage premium, is rather well established. However, the robustness of the marriage premium across the wage distribution and the underlying cause of the marriage premium are not well known. Focusing on the entire wage distribution and employing recently developed nonparametric tests for stochastic dominance, our findings question the current conception of the marriage premium, calling instead for the introduction of a broader concept incorporating wage dispersion. This broader notion arises from evidence suggesting that the marriage premium is primarily confined to the lower tail of the wage distribution; the premium is negligible at best in the upper tail. Finally, the majority of the premium is explained by selection, but there is a small role for ‘causal’ explanations.Length: 54 pages

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Paper provided by Southern Methodist University, Department of Economics in its series Departmental Working Papers with number 0503.

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Date of creation: Oct 2005
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:smu:ecowpa:0503
Contact details of provider: Postal:
Department of Economics, P.O. Box 750496, Southern Methodist University, Dallas, TX 75275-0496

Phone: 214-768-2715
Fax: 214-768-1821
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  1. repec:cup:etheor:v:10:y:1994:i:5:p:849-66 is not listed on IDEAS
  2. Kate Antonovics & Robert Town, 2004. "Are All the Good Men Married? Uncovering the Sources of the Marital Wage Premium," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(2), pages 317-321, May.
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  8. Maasoumi, Esfandiar, 2001. "On the relevance of first-order asymptotic theory to economics," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 100(1), pages 83-86, January.
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  13. Richard Blundell & Lorraine Dearden & Barbara Sianesi, 2004. "Evaluating the Impact of Education on Earnings in the UK: Models, Methods and Results from the NCDS," CEE Discussion Papers 0047, Centre for the Economics of Education, LSE.
  14. Kaur, Amarjot & Prakasa Rao, B.L.S. & Singh, Harshinder, 1994. "Testing for Second-Order Stochastic Dominance of Two Distributions," Econometric Theory, Cambridge University Press, vol. 10(05), pages 849-866, December.
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  21. Garry F. Barrett & Stephen G. Donald, 2003. "Consistent Tests for Stochastic Dominance," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 71(1), pages 71-104, January.
  22. Audrey Light, 2004. "Gender differences in the marriage and cohabitation income premium," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 41(2), pages 263-284, May.
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  26. Blackburn, McKinley & Korenman, Sanders, 1994. "The Declining Marital-Status Earnings Differential," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 7(3), pages 247-70, July.
  27. Anderson, Gordon, 1996. "Nonparametric Tests of Stochastic Dominance in Income Distributions," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 64(5), pages 1183-93, September.
  28. Donna K. Ginther & Madeline Zavodny, 2001. "Is the male marriage premium due to selection? The effect of shotgun weddings on the return to marriage," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 14(2), pages 313-328.
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