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The Effect of Marriage and Childbearing on the Wages of Men and Women

by David S. Loughran, Julie Zissimopoulos

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Abstract

The authors use data from the earlier and later cohorts of the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth to estimate the effect of marriage and childbearing on wages. Their estimates imply that marriage lowers female wages by between two and four percent in the year of marriage. Marriage also lowers the wage growth of men and women by about two and four percentage points, respectively. A first birth lowers female wages by between two and three percent, but has no effect on wage growth. Male wages are unaffected by childbearing. These findings suggest that early marriage and childbearing can lead to substantial decreases in lifetime earnings.

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