, Volume 7, Issue 3, pp 247-270

The declining marital-status earnings differential

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Earnings differentials between married and unmarried men have been declining since the late 1960s. We consider two possible explanations for this decline: changes in the nature of selection into marriage; and changes in role specialization within marriage. Our analysis of changes in marriage differentials within cohorts supports only a small contribution of changes in selection. There is some evidence that differences in human-capital investment between married and unmarried men have fallen over time, but this effect has apparently been largely offset by increases in the return to that human capital.

An earlier version of this paper was presented at the 1991 Population Association of America meetings. Helpful comments were provided by Noreen Goldman, David Neumark, Robert Willis, and seminar participants at the University of Michigan.