Working Paper Series, Swedish Institute for Social Research, Stockholm University
Donna K. Ginther
Does Marriage Lead to Specialization? An Evaluation of Swedish Trends in Adult Earnings Before and After Marriage
() and Marianne Sundström
Abstract: We examine whether marriage leads to specialization in
Sweden by implementing a model that differentiates specialization in the
household by cohabitation and marriage. Our paper evaluates this model
using panel data to analyze trends in earnings before and after marriage
between 1985 and 1995 for married and long-term cohabiting Swedish couples
with children. To identify the effect of marriage on earnings we use the
reform of the widow’s pension system that resulted in a marriage boom in
Sweden in 1989 and difference-in-difference estimation. Our results show
that most of the male marriage premium can be explained by positive
selection whereas the female marriage penalty reflects increased
specialization in home production and childcare. The findings suggest that
the positive selection of men into marriage translates into the increased
specialization of women. We also find evidence that marriage facilitates
specialization in the few couples where mothers earn more than fathers,
resulting in a marriage premium for women and a marriage penalty for men.
Finally, we find that the net effect of marriage on family earnings is zero
because the male marriage premium is offset by the female marriage penalty.
Our results show that specialization results from the legal arrangement of
marriage, not from the living arrangement of the household.
Keywords: Marriage; Marriage premium; Specialization; (follow links to similar papers)
JEL-Codes: J12; J31; (follow links to similar papers)
56 pages, February 11, 2010
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