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The marriage gap: Optimal aging and death in partnerships

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  • Schünemann, Johannes
  • Strulik, Holger
  • Trimborn, Timo

Abstract

Married people live longer than singles but how much of the longevity differential is causal and what the particular mechanisms are is not fully understood. In this paper we propose a new approach, based on counterfactual computational experiments, in order to asses how much of the marriage gap can be explained by public-goods sharing and collective bargaining of partners with different preferences and biology. For that purpose we integrate cooperative decision making of a couple into a biologically-founded life-cycle model of health deficit accumulation and endogenous longevity. We calibrate the model with U.S. data and perform the counterfactual experiment of preventing the partnership. We elaborate three economic channels and find that, as singles, men live 8.5 months shorter and women 6 months longer. We conclude that about 30% of the marriage gain in longevity of men can be motivated by economic calculus while the marriage gain for women observed in the data is attributed to selection or other (non-standard economic) motives.

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  • Schünemann, Johannes & Strulik, Holger & Trimborn, Timo, 2017. "The marriage gap: Optimal aging and death in partnerships," ECON WPS - Vienna University of Technology Working Papers in Economic Theory and Policy 04/2017, Vienna University of Technology, Institute for Mathematical Methods in Economics, Research Group Economics (ECON).
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:tuweco:042017
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    Cited by:

    1. Schünemann, Johannes & Strulik, Holger & Trimborn, Timo, 2019. "Anticipation of deteriorating health and information avoidance," Center for European, Governance and Economic Development Research Discussion Papers 365, University of Goettingen, Department of Economics.
    2. Dalgaard, Carl-Johan & Hansen, Casper Worm & Strulik, Holger, 2018. "Physiological Aging around the World and Economic Growth," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 375, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
    3. Carl-Johan Dalgaard & Casper Worm Hansen & Holger Strulik, 2017. "Accounting for Fetal Origins: Health Capital vs. Health Deficits," Discussion Papers 17-11, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
    4. Abeliansky, Ana Lucia & Erel, Devin & Strulik, Holger, 2019. "Aging in the USA: Similarities and disparities across time and space," Center for European, Governance and Economic Development Research Discussion Papers 384, University of Goettingen, Department of Economics.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    health; aging; longevity; marriage-gap; gender-specific preferences; unhealthy behavior;

    JEL classification:

    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making
    • J17 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Value of Life; Foregone Income
    • J26 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Retirement; Retirement Policies
    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior

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