Review of Economics of the Household

, Volume 9, Issue 2, pp 221–249 | Cite as

Job turnover, wage rates, and marital stability: How are they related?

  • Avner Ahituv
  • Robert I. LermanEmail author


This study examines the interplay between job stability, wage rates, and marital stability. We use a Dynamic Selection Control model in which young men make sequential choices about work and family and estimate the model using an approach that takes account of self-selection, simultaneity and unobserved heterogeneity. The results quantify how job stability affects wage rates, how both affect marital status, and how marital status affects earnings and job stability. The study reveals robust evidence that job changes lower wages and the likelihood of getting married and remaining married. At the same time, marriage raises wage rates and job stability. To project the sequential effects linking job change, marital status, and earnings, we simulate the impacts of shocks that raise preferences for marriage and that increase education. Feedback effects cause the simulated wage gains from marriage to cumulate over time, indicating that long-run marriage wage premiums exceed conventional short-run estimates.


Marriage and marital dissolution Job turnover Wage rates Panel data 

JEL Specification

C15 C33 J12 J31 J63 



The authors thank the National Institute for Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) for financial support for this research grant (RO 3 HD043994-01) to the Urban Institute. We appreciate the useful comments provided by anonymous referees, by the editor, and by seminar participants in the European Summer Symposium in Labor Economics (ESSLE), European Association of Labor Economics (EALE), the University of Haifa and Tel-Aviv University.


  1. Ahituv, A., & Lerman, R. I. (2007). How do marital status, wage rates, and work effort Interact. Demography, 44(3), 623–647.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Ahituv, A., & Tienda, M. (2004). Employment activity, motherhood and school continuation decisions of young white, Black and Hispanic women. Journal of Labor Economics, 22(1), 115–158.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Becker, G. S. (1974). A Theory of Marriage. In T. W. Schultz (Ed.), Economics of the family. Chicago: Chicago University Press.Google Scholar
  4. Becker, G. S., Landes, E., & Michael, R. (1977). An economic analysis of marital instability. Journal of Political Economy, 85, 1141–1187.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bernhardt, A., Morris, M., Handcock, M., & Scott, M. (1999). Trends in job stability and wages for young adult men. Journal of Labor Economics, 17:4. Part 2, 65–91.Google Scholar
  6. Bielby, D., & Bielby, W. (1988). She works hard for the money: Household responsibilities and the allocation of work effort. American Journal of Sociology, 93(5), 1031–1059.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Burdett, K., & Coles, M. (1999). Long-term partnership formation: Marriage and employment. Economic Journal, 109(456), F307–F334.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Call, V., & Teachman, J. (1996). Life-course timing and sequencing of marriage and military service and their effects on marital stability. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 58, 219–226.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Cameron, S., & Heckman, J. (1998). Life cycle schooling and dynamic selection bias: Models and evidence for five cohorts of American males. Journal of Political Economy, 106, 262–333.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Charles, K., & Stephens, M., Jr. (2004). Job displacement, disability, and divorce. Journal of Labor Economics, 22(2), 489–522.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Chun, H., & Lee, I. (2001). Why do married men earn more: Productivity or marriage selection? Economic Inquiry, 39(2), 307–319.Google Scholar
  12. Cornwell, C., & Rupert, P. (1997). Unobservable individual effects, marriage, and the earnings of young men. Economic Inquiry, 35(April), 285–294.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Daniel, K. (1995). The marriage premium. In M. Tommasi & K. Ierulli (Eds.), The new economics of human behavior (pp. 113–125). Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  14. Eckert-Jaffe, O., & Solaz, A. (2001). Unemployment, marriage, and cohabitation in France. The Journal of Socio-Economics, 30, 75–98.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Edin, K., & Kefalas, M. (2005). Promises I can keep: Why poor women put motherhood before marriage. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  16. Farber, H. (1995). Are lifetime jobs disappearing? Job duration in the United States, 19731993, National Bureau of Economic Research no. Working Paper 5014. Cambridge, MA.Google Scholar
  17. Gorman, E. H. (1999). Bringing home the Bacon: Marital allocation of income-earning responsibility, job shifts, and men’s wages. Journal of Family Issues, 61, 110–122.Google Scholar
  18. Gould, D. E. (2003). Marriage and career: The dynamic decisions of young men. The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Unpublished manuscript.Google Scholar
  19. Gray, J. S. (1996). The fall in men’s return to marriage: Declining productivity effects or changing selection? Journal of Human Resources, 32(3), 481–504.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Grossbard-Shechtman, S. (1993). On the economics of marriage: A theory of marriage, labor, and divorce. Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press.Google Scholar
  21. Hamilton, S. (1990). Apprenticeship for adulthood: Preparing youth for the future. New York, New York: The Free Press.Google Scholar
  22. Hansen, H.-T. (2005). Unemployment and marital dissolution. European Sociological Review, 21(2), 135–148.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Haskins, R., & Sawhill, I. (2003). Work and marriage: The way to end poverty and welfare. Welfare reform and beyond, #28. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution.Google Scholar
  24. Heckman, J. (1979). Sample selection bias as a specification error. Econometrica, 47(1), 153–161.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Heckman, J. J., & Singer, B. (1984). A method for minimizing the impact of distributional assumptions in econometric models of duration analysis. Econometrica, 52, 217–320.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Heckman, J., Urzua, S., & Vytlacil, E. (2006). Understanding instrumental variables in models with essential heterogeneity. Review of Economics and Statistics, 88(3), 389–432.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Hotz, V. J., Xu, L., Tienda, M., & Ahituv, A. (2002). Are there returns to the wages of young men from working while in school? Review of Economics and Statistics, 84(1), 221–236.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Ichimura, H., & Taber, C. (2002). Semiparametric reduced-form estimation of tuition subsidies. American Economic Review, 286–292.Google Scholar
  29. Jovanovic, B. (1979). Job matching and the theory of turnover. Journal of Political Economy, 87(5), 972–990.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Klerman, J. A., & Karoly, L. A. (1994). Young men and the transition to stable employment. Monthly Labor Review, 117(8), 31–48.Google Scholar
  31. Korenman, S., & Neumark, D. (1991). Does marriage really make men more productive? Journal of Human Resources, 26, 282–307.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Light, A., & McGarry, K. (1998). Job change patterns and the wages of young men. Review of Economics and Statistics, 80(2), 276–286.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Manning, W. D., & Smock, P. (1995). Why marry? Race and the transition to marriage among cohabitors. Demography, 32(4), 509–520.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. McFadden, D. L. (1984). Econometric analysis of qualitative response models. In Z. Griliches & M. D. Intriligator (Eds.), Handbook of econometrics (Vol. II, pp. 1396–1457). NY: North-Holland.Google Scholar
  35. Mincer, J., & Polachek, S. (1974). Family investments in human capital: Earnings of women. Journal of Political Economy, S76–S108.Google Scholar
  36. Neumark, D. (2000). Changes in job stability and job security: A collective effort to untangle, reconcile, and interpret the evidence. National Bureau of Economic Research. Working Paper 7472. Cambridge, MA.Google Scholar
  37. Neumark, D. (2002). Youth labor markets in the United States: Shopping around or staying put. The Review of Economics and Statistics, 84(3), 462–482.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Nock, S. L. (1998). Marriage in men’s lives. New York: Oxford.Google Scholar
  39. Presser, H. (2000). Nonstandard work schedules and marital instability. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 62(February), 93–110.Google Scholar
  40. Smock, P. J., & Manning, W. D. (1997). Cohabitation partners’ economic circumstances and marriage. Demography, 34(3), 331–341.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Teachman, J. D., Call, V. R. A., & Carver, K. P. (1994). Marital status and the duration of joblessness among White Men. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 56, 415–428.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Topel, R. H., & Ward, M. P. (1992). Job mobility and the careers of young men. Quarterly Journal of Economics, 196, 439–479.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2000). Number of jobs held, labor market activity, and earnings growth over two decades: Results from a longitudinal survey. Washington, DC.Google Scholar
  44. Waite, L. J., & Gallagher, M. (2000). The case for marriage. New York: Doubleday.Google Scholar
  45. Weiss, Y., & Willis, R. J. (1997). Match quality, new information, and marital dissolution. Journal of Labor Economics, 15(1), S293–S329.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Wilcox, W. B., & Nock, S. L. (2006). What’s love got to do with it? Equality, equity, commitment and women’s marital quality. Social Forces, 84, 1321–1345.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Wilson, W. J. (1987). The truly disadvantaged. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  48. Wilson, J. Q. (2002). The marriage problem. New York: Harper Collins.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Carmel Academic CenterHaifaIsrael
  2. 2.American University, Urban Institute, and IZAWashingtonUSA

Personalised recommendations