Alexandra Killewald. Men’s Labor Market Outcomes: Is There a Case for Marriage?

Monday, October 13, 2014 - 2:00pm to 3:30pm
Blumer Room - 402 Barrows Hall

Men’s Labor Market Outcomes: Is There a Case for Marriage?
Social scientists have argued that marriage changes men’s work lives, but quantitative evaluations of these claims typically only compare age-adjusted average outcomes prior to and following marriage. This approach overlooks the literature on the transition to adulthood, which suggests that young adulthood is a time of both union formation and unusually rapid improvements in work outcomes. Furthermore, the literature on the determinants of marriage suggests that men’s work outcomes may cause marriage rather than the other way around. We evaluate these perspectives and provide a more rigorous estimate of the causal effect of marriage on men’s work outcomes. We use distributed fixed-effects models and data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979 to examine how men’s work hours, firm connections, job traits, and wages change in the years leading up to and following marriage. We find that, even after adjusting for ageing, men’s work outcomes improve more rapidly than expected beginning at least five years prior to marriage. For most outcomes, improvements continue through the first few years of marriage before leveling off. Because men enter marriage at a time of rapid improvements in their work lives, conventional fixed-effects models overstate marriage’s positive effects. However, there is some evidence that the odds of employment and full-time employment increase sharply in the year immediately preceding marriage, consistent with the hypothesis that full-time employment is strongly normative for husbands and that men delay marriage until finding steady work, or seek full-time employment in anticipation of transitioning to marriage.

Alexandra (Sasha) Killewald is an Assistant Professor of Sociology. She received her PhD in Public Policy and Sociology from the University of Michigan in 2011. Her research takes a demographic approach to the study of social stratification.

Much of her work focuses on the work-family intersection, including the ways in which earnings and employment shape women’s time in household labor, and the effect of marriage and parenthood on workers’ wages. Her research also engages questions regarding the distribution of U.S. wealth. She has written on the role of parental wealth in explaining the Black-White wealth gap, as well as the influence of parental wealth on spouse choice.

She is co-author of Is American Science in Decline? (2012), which documents trends in the size of the American scientific workforce, public attitudes toward science, youth interest in science, the production of scientific degrees, and transitions to scientific employment.