Journal of Population Economics

, Volume 30, Issue 3, pp 771–804

Knot yet: minimum marriage age law, marriage delay, and earnings

Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s00148-017-0632-5

Cite this article as:
Wang, C. & Wang, L. J Popul Econ (2017) 30: 771. doi:10.1007/s00148-017-0632-5


Despite the historical highs for age at first marriage, little is known about the causal relationship between marriage delay and wages, and more importantly, the mechanisms driving such relationship. We attempt to fill the void. Building on an identification strategy proposed in Dahl (Demography 47:689–718, 2010), we first establish the causal wage effects of marriage delay. We then propose ways to distinguish among competing theories and hypotheses, as well as the channels through which marriage delay affects wages. Specifically, we take advantage of their different implications for causal relationship, across gender and sub-populations. We reach two conclusions. First, we find a positive causal impact of marriage delay on wages, with a larger effect for women. Comparison of IV and OLS estimates suggests that the observed relationship between marriage delay and wages is attributed to both selection in late marriages and true causal effects. Second, we find strong evidence that the positive, causal effects are almost exclusively through increased education for both men and women.


Timing of first marriage Wages Human capital Selection 

JEL Classification

J12 J16 J31 

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EconomicsThe University of OklahomaNormanUSA

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