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The marriage gap: Optimal aging and death in partnerships

Johannes Schünemann (), Holger Strulik () and Timo Trimborn ()

No 339, Center for European, Governance and Economic Development Research Discussion Papers from University of Goettingen, Department of Economics

Abstract: Married people live longer than singles but how much of the longevity gap is causal and what the particular mechanisms are is not fully understood. In this paper we propose a new approach, based on counterfactual computational experiments, in order to asses how much of the marriage gap can be explained by income pooling and public-goods sharing as well as collective bargaining of partners with different preferences and biology. For that purpose we integrate cooperative decision making of a couple into a biologically founded life-cycle model of health deficit accumulation and endogenous longevity. We calibrate the model with U.S. data and perform the counterfactual experiment of preventing the partnership. We elaborate four economic channels and find that, as singles, men live 8.5 months shorter and women 6 months longer. We conclude that about 25% of the marriage gain in longevity of men can be motivated by economic calculus while the marriage gain for women observed in the data is attributed to selection or other (non-standard economic) motives.

Keywords: health; aging; longevity; marriage-gap; gender-specific preferences; unhealthy behavior (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D91 J17 J26 I12 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-age, nep-dem and nep-hea
Date: 2018
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