Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

HUI Working Papers,
HUI Research

No 32: The Effects of Spousal Education on Individual Earnings – A Study of Married Swedish Couples

Johanna Åström
Additional contact information
Johanna Åström: The Swedish Retail Institute (HUI), Postal: Regeringsgatan 60, 103 29 Stockholm, Sweden, and Department of Economics, Umeå University, 901 87 Umeå,Sweden,

Abstract: A positive association between spousal education and individual earnings is a common empirical finding (e.g., Benham, 1974 and Rossetti and Tanda, 2000). The two most common explanations for this are sample selection and crossproductivity effects. Can spouses really benefit from each other’s human capital in the labour market, or does the entire association stem from assortative mating? In this study, we control for time-invariant heterogeneity that may be correlated with the spouse’s education level and use a rich data set that includes observations of individuals when they are single and when they are married. The results support the cross-productivity hypothesis for both males and females. Furthermore, couples with education within the same field experience even larger effects.

Keywords: Marriage; Education; Human capital spillover

JEL-codes: I21; J12; J24

29 pages, July 8, 2011

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