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Marriage Meets the Joneses: Relative Income, Identity, and Marital Status

This paper investigates the effect of relative income on marriage. Accounting flexibly for absolute income, the ratio between a manÂ’s income and a local reference group median is a strong predictor of marital status, but only for low-income men. Relative income affects marriage even among those living with a partner. A ten percent higher reference group income is associated with a two percent reduction in marriage. We propose an identity model to explain the results.

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File URL: http://web.williams.edu/Economics/wp/WatsonMcLanahanMarriageMeetsTheJoneses.pdf
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Paper provided by Department of Economics, Williams College in its series Department of Economics Working Papers with number 2010-06.

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Length: 73 pages
Date of creation: Aug 2010
Date of revision:
Publication status: Published in Journal of Human Resources 46: 568-586
Handle: RePEc:wil:wileco:2010-06
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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  1. David A. Jaeger & Susanna Loeb & Sarah E. Turner & John Bound, 1998. "Coding Geographic Areas Across Census Years: Creating Consistent Definitions of Metropolitan Areas," NBER Working Papers 6772, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  3. Thomas W. Volscho & Andrew S. Fullerton, 2005. "Metropolitan Earnings Inequality: Union and Government-Sector Employment Effects," Social Science Quarterly, Southwestern Social Science Association, vol. 86(s1), pages 1324-1337.
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  10. Stevenson, Betsey & Wolfers, Justin, 2007. "Marriage and Divorce: Changes and their Driving Forces," IZA Discussion Papers 2602, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  11. Clark, Andrew E. & Frijters, Paul & Shields, Michael A., 2007. "Relative Income, Happiness and Utility: An Explanation for the Easterlin Paradox and Other Puzzles," IZA Discussion Papers 2840, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  12. George A. Akerlof & Rachel E. Kranton, 2000. "Economics And Identity," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 115(3), pages 715-753, August.
  13. David S. Loughran, 2002. "The Effect Of Male Wage Inequality On Female Age At First Marriage," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 84(2), pages 237-250, May.
  14. Benno Torgler & Sascha Schmidt, 2007. "What shapes player performance in soccer? Empirical findings from a panel analysis," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 39(18), pages 2355-2369.
  15. Robert J. Willis, 1999. "A Theory of Out-of-Wedlock Childbearing," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(S6), pages S33-S64, December.
  16. Denizer, Cevdet & Wolf, Holger C. & Ying, Yvonne, 2000. "Household savings in transition economies," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2299, The World Bank.
  17. Edward L. Glaeser & Joshua D. Gottlieb, 2009. "The Wealth of Cities: Agglomeration Economies and Spatial Equilibrium in the United States," NBER Working Papers 14806, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  18. Erzo F. P. Luttmer, 2005. "Neighbors as Negatives: Relative Earnings and Well-Being," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 120(3), pages 963-1002, August.
  19. Glaeser, Edward L. & Kahn, Matthew E. & Rappaport, Jordan, 2008. "Why do the poor live in cities The role of public transportation," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 63(1), pages 1-24, January.
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  23. 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.
  24. S Davies Withers, 1998. "Linking household transitions and housing transitions: a longitudinal analysis of renters," Environment and Planning A, Pion Ltd, London, vol. 30(4), pages 615-630, April.
  25. repec:ebl:ecbull:v:26:y:2006:i:4:p:1-20 is not listed on IDEAS
  26. David Albouy, 2008. "Are Big Cities Bad Places to Live? Estimating Quality of Life across Metropolitan Areas," NBER Working Papers 14472, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  27. Jesse Rothstein, 2007. "Does Competition Among Public Schools Benefit Students and Taxpayers? Comment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(5), pages 2026-2037, December.
  28. Christine Eibner & William N. Evans, 2005. "Relative Deprivation, Poor Health Habits, and Mortality," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 40(3).
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