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​Distinguished Seminar by Economic Growth Centre | Who married, (to) whom, and where? Trends in marriage in the United States 1850-1940

Published on: 25-Feb-2019

EventWho married, (to) whom, and where? Trends in marriage in the United States 1850-1940
Prof Daniele Paserman, Boston University
Senior Lecturer, Hebrew University; Research Affiliate, Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); and Faculty Research Fellow, National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)
ChairAssoc Prof Yohanes Eko Riyanto
Date25 February 2019 (Monday)
VenueHSS Conference Room (HSS-05-57)
Time1:00pm – 2:30pm

About the Seminar
This paper presents a novel analysis of marriage in the United States in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and its relation to socioeconomic status. We document the following facts: 1) Already in the mid-19th Century there was a socioeconomic gradient in marriage rates—men and women born to families in the bottom quartile of the occupational earnings distribution were more likely to marry those in the top quartile. The gradient had grown steeper by the middle of the 20th Century. 2) Age at marriage follows an inverted U-shape, and exhibits a clear socioeconomic gradient, which becomes steeper over time. 3) There is a substantial increaase in the degree of assortativeness by socioeconomic status over this period. 4) The mean age gap between spouses declines over time but it explains very little of the change in assortativeness by socioeconomic status. 5) Along with the socioeconomic gradient in marriage outcomes, there is also a geographical gradient: the South has more “traditional” marriage patterns than the Northeast—higher marriage rates, younger age at first marriage, more assortativeness, and a larger age gap between spouses. The geographic gradient also increases over time. The overall picture is one of a society that was becoming more segmented along the marriage dimention. We further investigate how much of this increased segmentation can be explained by income divergence across geographic reasons. We find that regional divergence explains about one half of the socioeconomic divergence in the probability of marriage, and almost all of the increase in marital sorting. Geograpnic differences in ubanization rates account for much of these differences; on the other hand, geographic differences in percent manufacturing, access to railroads and scholarization rates play a smaller role. 

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