Marriage rates of skilled and unskilled women have evolved quite differently across countries since 1995. The rate is lower overall for skilled women but the gap is narrowing, and even reversing, in some countries. This column uses evidence from 23 countries between 1995 and 2010 to consider how skilled women’s labour market opportunities impact their marriage prospects in different societies. Generally, more conservative societies have lower marriage rates for skilled women relative to unskilled women, with the effects of an increase in skilled women’s wages depending on the degree of conservatism.
Marianne Bertrand, Patricia Cortes, Claudia Olivetti, Jessica Pan, 21 June 2016
Siwan Anderson, Debraj Ray, 10 October 2015
The developing world has notoriously low female-to-male sex ratios, a phenomenon that has been described as ‘missing women’. It is argued that this is driven by parental preferences for sons, sex-selective abortion, and different levels of care during infancy. This column shows that these higher rates of female mortality continue into adulthood. It argues that being unmarried, especially through widowhood, can have substantial effects on relative rates of female mortality in the developing world.
Nezih Guner, Yuliya Kulikova, Joan Llull, 19 January 2015
Married couples are healthier than singles. This column works to determine the direction of causality by exploiting panel data. In line with the evolutionary psychology literature, healthier individuals seem to be more desirable and are thus more likely to sort into marriage; but there also exists a ‘protective’ health value to marriage. It seems that couples encourage each other to take precautions.
Jeremy Greenwood, Nezih Guner, Georgi Kocharakov, Cezar Santos, 22 February 2014
How Americans form and dissolve families has changed dramatically since 1950. One of these changes has been an increase in assortative mating, i.e. how likely a person is to marry someone of similar educational background. This column argues that since education is an important determinant of income, these patterns of matching have had an important impact on the economy's distribution of income.
Shelly Lundberg, Robert Pollak, 29 October 2013
Marriage patterns have changed in the last 50 years as fertility rates declined and cohabitation became more widespread. These trends can be explained by a shift in the gains from marriage away from specialisation and towards investment in children. This column argues that different patterns in childrearing are key to understanding class differences in marriage and parenthood. Heterogeneity in preferences for – or ability to invest in – child human capital explain marriage and fertility patterns across socioeconomic groups.
Paul Seabright, 18 May 2012
Paul Seabright of the Toulouse School of Economics talks to Viv Davies about his book, "The War of the Sexes: how conflict and cooperation have shaped men and women from pre-history to the present”. He explains how game theory can shed light on the complex dynamics that create both conflict and cooperation between the sexes. They discuss the connection between the rise of modern capitalism and the rise of feminism, monogamy and marriage and whether there will ever be sexual equality.
Sara de la Rica , Juan Dolado, Raquel Vegas, 03 August 2010
The competitive paradigm predicts equivalent wages for equivalent workers, but significant gender gaps persist in many labor markets. This column analyses the gap in earnings between Spanish men and women, focusing on performance-related pay. It shows a strikingly large gap in pay and suggests that employer beliefs about unbalanced household tasks and outside options generate “a marriage premium” for males and a “marriage penalty” for women.
Graziella Bertocchi, Costanza Torricelli, Marianna Brunetti, 13 March 2010
Does marriage make people less averse to risk? This column argues that this is the case for women, but not for men. But married women's different attitude towards risk has fallen over time as the prevalence of marriage in society has faded. For women who work, marriage makes no difference.
Martin Halla, 03 August 2009
Marriage rates have been falling over the last thirty years and cohabitation has emerged as an important social institution. A large number of US polices have been designed to increase the incidence of marriage and to stabilise existing marriages. This column shows that custody law is one such policy – it has had a large positive impact on marriage rates since 1969.
Tara Watson, 05 May 2009
Low-income Americans are less likely to be married. Recent research suggests that low-income people wait on marriage while striving for a higher economic status, with that status determined by the peer group.