Educational Advantage and Earnings Lead? Assortative Mating and Spousal Pay Gap

Zhenchao Qian , Brown University
Yifan Shen, Brown University

With rapid increases in marriages in which women have more schooling than their husbands, we explore how educational assortative mating influences spousal pay gap at and after marriage. Using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Youth 1979, we build on recent work on earnings growth among men and women before and after marriage and focus, instead, on spousal earnings differences within the family. We ask whether wives’ educational advantage leads to more earnings compared to their husbands. We show that wives’ earnings advantage after marriage depends on whether they have children: wives with more education than their husbands have lower earnings than their husbands among those with children, even when wives work full time, but earnings advantage over their husbands prevails among wives with no children. We frame the paper around the gender specialization model and investigate wives’ contributions to family income by accounting for a multitude of factors.

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 Presented in Session P1. Poster Session Fertility, Family and the Life Course