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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Are All The Good Men Married? Uncovering the Sources of the Marital Wage Premium


A longstanding and yet unsettled question in labor economics is: does marriage cause men's wages to rise? Cross-sectional wage studies consistently find that married men earn significantly higher wages than do men who are not currently married. However, it is well-known that inferring causal relationships from crosssectional analysis is inappropriate because of the biases introduced by unobserved heterogeneity. As a means of circumventing this problem, this paper uses data on identical twins to control for unobserved heterogeneity. Our estimates suggest that marriage increases men's wages by as much as 27%, and that little, if any, of the cross-sectional relationship between marriage and wages is due to selection. In addition, we find little evidence that the marital-wage premium is a consequence of household specialization.

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