Gender differences in the marriage and cohabitation income premium*

Abstract

Using data from the 1979 National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, I identify causal effects of marriage and cohabitation on total family income. My goals are to compare men’s and women’s changes in financial status upon entering unions and to assess the relative contributions of adjustments in own income, income pooling, and changes in family size. Changes in own income that are due to intrahousehold specialization prove to be minor for both men and women relative to the effects of adding another adult’s income to the family total. Women gain roughly 55% in needs-adjusted, total family income, regardless of whether they cohabit or marry, whereas men’s needs-adjusted income levels remain unchanged when men make these same transitions.

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Light, A. Gender differences in the marriage and cohabitation income premium*. Demography 41, 263–284 (2004). https://doi.org/10.1353/dem.2004.0016

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Keywords

  • Married Couple
  • Total Family Income
  • Adult Equivalent
  • Marriage Premium
  • Educational Assortative Mating