Marital Sorting and Parental Wealth
40 Pages Posted: 31 Jan 2011 Last revised: 30 Apr 2013
Date Written: January 2011
Using data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID), this paper studies the degree to which spouses sort in the marriage market on the basis of parental wealth. We estimate a variety of models, including transition matrices, OLS and TSLS models to deal with measurement error in wealth reports. Our various results show that men and women in the U.S. marry spouses whose parents have wealth similar to that of their own parents; and are very unlikely to marry persons from very different parental wealth backgrounds. This effect is present in the population as a whole, within racial groups, and especially in the tails of the distribution. Our preferred estimates indicate that the correlation in log wealth between own and spouse's parents wealth is around 0.4. We show that education accounts for only one-quarter of this sorting, and also show that selection into and out marriage by parental wealth does not appreciably bias our results.
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By Joni Hersch