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Gender, Marriage, and Asset Accumulation in the United States

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Abstract

Wealth accumulation has important implications for the relative well-being of households. This article describes how household wealth in the United States varies by gender and family type. Evidence is found of large differences in observed wealth between single-female-headed households and married couples. Although some of this gap reflects differences in observable characteristics correlated with gender and wealth -- such as position in the life cycle, education, and family earnings -- controlling for these characteristics reduces but does not eliminate the estimated wealth gap. The wealth holdings of single females in the US, controlling for these same characteristics, are also significantly lower than the wealth holdings of single males. In contrast, observed wealth gaps between genders in a sub-sample of young households disappear when controlling for observable characteristics, suggesting either that in the US these gaps are disappearing for younger households or that these gaps do not emerge until later in life.

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  • Lucie Schmidt & Purvi Sevak, 2006. "Gender, Marriage, and Asset Accumulation in the United States," Department of Economics Working Papers 2006-06, Department of Economics, Williams College.
  • Handle: RePEc:wil:wileco:2006-06
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Wealth; gender; family structure;

    JEL classification:

    • D3 - Microeconomics - - Distribution
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
    • J12 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Marriage; Marital Dissolution; Family Structure

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