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Is There a Male Breadwinner Norm? The Hazards of Inferring Preferences from Marriage Market Outcomes

Ariel J. Binder and David Lam ()

No 24907, NBER Working Papers from National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc

Abstract: Building on standard marital matching models, we show that a variety of underlying social preferences about a given trait all generate positive assortative matching on that trait, and hence the same distribution of spousal trait differences in equilibrium. Applying this result to U.S. Census and administrative earnings data, we find that simple models of assortative matching can very closely replicate the observed distribution of spousal earnings differences, in which very few wives out-earn their husbands. We conclude that the distribution of spousal earnings differences in the U.S. provides little information about the existence and implications of a male breadwinner norm.

JEL-codes: D10 J12 J16 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2018-08
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-dem, nep-lab, nep-ltv and nep-soc
Note: DEV LS
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