Social Norms, Labor Market Opportunities, and the Marriage Gap for Skilled Women

71 Pages Posted: 18 Apr 2016

See all articles by Marianne Bertrand

Marianne Bertrand

University of Chicago - Booth School of Business; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Patricia Cortes

Boston University

Claudia Olivetti

Boston College; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Jessica Pan

National University of Singapore (NUS)

Multiple version iconThere are 4 versions of this paper

Date Written: February 2016

Abstract

In most of the developed world, skilled women marry at a lower rate than unskilled women. We document heterogeneity across countries in how the marriage gap for skilled women has evolved over time. As labor market opportunities for women have improved, the marriage gap has been growing in some countries but shrinking in others. We discuss a theoretical model in which the (negative) social attitudes towards working women might contribute towards the lower marriage rate of skilled women, and might also induce a non-linear relationship between their labor market prospects and their marriage outcomes. The model is suited to understand the dynamics of the marriage gap for skilled women over time within a country with set social attitudes towards working women. The model also delivers predictions about how the marriage gap for skilled women should react to changes in their labor market opportunities across countries with more or less conservative attitudes towards working women. We test the key predictions of this model in a panel of 23 developed countries, as well as in a panel of US states.

Suggested Citation

Bertrand, Marianne and Cortes, Patricia and Olivetti, Claudia and Pan, Jessica, Social Norms, Labor Market Opportunities, and the Marriage Gap for Skilled Women (February 2016). CEPR Discussion Paper No. DP11124. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2766415

Marianne Bertrand (Contact Author)

University of Chicago - Booth School of Business ( email )

5807 S. Woodlawn Avenue
Chicago, IL 60637
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773-834-5943 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://gsbwww.uchicago.edu/fac/marianne.bertrand/vita/cv_0604.pdf

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
617-588-0341 (Phone)
617-876-2742 (Fax)

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

Patricia Cortes

Boston University

Claudia Olivetti

Boston College ( email )

140 Commonwealth Avenue
Chestnut Hill, MA 02467
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Jessica Pan

National University of Singapore (NUS) ( email )

Bukit Timah Road 469 G
Singapore, 117591
Singapore

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