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The Effect of Marriage on the Wages of Americans: Gender and Generational Differences

By William Song and Theresa Tong

A substantial body of literature on the wage effects of marriage finds that married American men earn anywhere from 10% to 40% higher wages than unmarried men on average, while married American women earn up to 7% less than unmarried women, even after controlling for traits such as background, education, and number of children. Because this literature focuses heavily on men born in a single time period, we study both men and women in two different generational cohorts of Americans (Baby Boomers and Millennials) from the National Longitudinal Surveys of Youth to examine how the wage effects of marriage differ between genders and across time. Using a fixed effects approach, we find that Millennial women—but not Baby Boomer women—experience an increase in wages after marriage, and we replicate the finding from the literature that men experience an increase in wages after marriage as well. However, after controlling for wage trajectory-based selection into marriage by using a modified fixed effects approach that allows wage trajectories to vary by individual, we find that the wage effects of marriage are no longer statistically significant for any group in our data, suggesting that the wage differences between married and unmarried individuals found in previous studies are primarily a result of selection.

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Advisors: Professor Marjorie McElroy, Professor Michelle Connolly | JEL Codes: C33; D13; J12; J13; J22; J30

The Impact of Violence in Mexico on Education and Labor Outcomes: Do Conditional Cash Transfers Have a Mitigating Effect?

By Hayley Jordan Barton

This research explores the potential mitigating effect of Mexico’s conditional cash transfer program, Oportunidades, on the education and labor impacts of increased homicide rates. Panel data models are combined with a difference-in-differences approach to compare children and young adults who receive cash transfers with those who do not. Results are very sensitive to specification, but Oportunidades participation is shown to be positively associated with educational attainment regardless of homicide increases. Homicides are associated with decreases in likelihood of school enrollment and compulsory education completion; however, they also correspond with increases in educational attainment, with a larger effect for Oportunidades non-recipients.

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Advisors: Dr. Charles Becker, and Dr. Michelle Connolly | JEL Codes: C23; D15; I20; I38; J24

The Effects of Parental Division of Employment on Child Outcomes During Adulthood

By Meredith Parenti 

This paper offers an empirical analysis of the effects of division of employment between parent figures on future outcomes of children. Using propensity score matching, this study extends upon previous research to offer an understanding of the joint role played by maternal employment and that of a present or non-present husband. Data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Children and Young Adults and the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979 are used to create and examine a comprehensive set of respondents’ backgrounds and labor outcomes. Relative to children from two parent homes with only working fathers, children from two parent homes with part-time working mothers and non-working fathers appear to have less positive labor outcomes. Conversely, children with full-time working mothers without spouses in the home have more positive labor outcomes. These findings demonstrate the mediation of each parent figure on the role of the other in determining outcomes and suggest maternal work is beneficial to children, or plays no significant role, unless a mother has to support not only her children, but also her husband through her employment.

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Advisors: V. Joseph Hotz and Michelle Connolly | JEL Codes: J01, J12, J22

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