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Gender, Marriage, and Asset Accumulation in the United States

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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Paper provided by Department of Economics, Williams College in its series Department of Economics Working Papers with number 2006-06.

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Length: 28 pages
Date of creation: Apr 2006
Date of revision:
Publication status: Published in Feminist Economics, Vol. 12 Nos. 1-2, January/April 2006, pp. 139-166
Handle: RePEc:wil:wileco:2006-06
Contact details of provider: Postal: Williamstown, MA 01267
Phone: 413 597 2476
Fax: 413 597 4045
Web page: http://econ.williams.edu
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  17. Phillip B. Levine & Olivia S. Mitchell & James F. Moore, . "Women on the Verge of Retirement: Predictors of Retiree Well-being," Pension Research Council Working Papers 97-2, Wharton School Pension Research Council, University of Pennsylvania.
  18. Woolley, Frances R, 1993. "The Feminist Challenge to Neoclassical Economics," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 17(4), pages 485-500, December.
  19. Joseph G. Altonji & Ulrich Doraszelski & Lewis Segal, 2000. "Black/white differences in wealth," Economic Perspectives, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, issue Q I, pages 38-50.
  20. Jianakoplos, Nancy Ammon & Bernasek, Alexandra, 1998. "Are Women More Risk Averse?," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 36(4), pages 620-30, October.
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