Is the male marriage premium due to selection? The effect of shotgun weddings on the return to marriage
In standard cross-sectional wage regressions, married men appear to earn 10 to 20% more than comparable never married men. One proposed explanation for this male marriage premium is that men may be selected into marriage on the basis of characteristics valued by employers as well as by spouses or because they earn high wages. This paper examines the selection hypothesis by focusing on shotgun weddings, which may make marital status uncorrelated with earnings ability. We compare the estimated marriage premium between white men whose first marriages are soon followed by a birth and other married white men in the United States. The return to marriage differs little for married men with a premarital conception and other married men, and the results suggest that at most 10% of the estimated marriage premium is due to selection.
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