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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The marriage economy: Examining the economic impact and the context of marriage in comparative perspective
by Geist, Claudia, Ph.D., Indiana University, 2008, 276; 3324527
Abstract (Summary)

Marriage remains an important institution in contemporary societies, despite the many changes families have undergone. This dissertation investigates the context and the economic consequences of marriage for men and women in comparative perspective. I compare earnings of married men and women in a 15 country cross-section, and I examine the implications of marriage in more detail for the men and women in the United States, Germany, and Sweden. Additionally, I explore the role of cultural, economic, and policy context for aggregate rates of marriage and average age at marriage over the past four decades in comparative perspective. These analyses allow me to assess whether marriage is becoming a luxury good or whether marriage is an additional source of economic inequality for men and women. I perform analyses at the individual and aggregate level using a variety of data sources. My findings indicate a virtually universal wage advantage for married men, but mixed evidence about the marriage wage differences for women. I document downward trends in marriage rates and a rising average age at first marriage. My dissertation establishes that men's economic position remains important for transitions into marriage. Economic prosperity is associated with marriage delays in a variety of policy contexts. Analyzing individuals' earnings over time, I find that entering marriage is associated with an earnings advantage for men in the United States and Germany and women in Germany. Once I account for1 the differences in individual and employment characteristics between married and unmarried individuals, however, entering marriage reduces German women's earnings and increases those of German men. No marriage earnings effect can be found for men or women in the United States or Sweden. Overall, I demonstrate that marriage is a context sensitive institution. Marriage is a source of economic advantages for men, but women are not able to benefit from marriage to the same extent. This dissertation underlines the importance of marriage as a factor in men's and women's economic well-being, and underlines the context sensitivity. In this dissertation I explore the welfare state categorization and other taxonomic approaches as explanation of cross-national variation in the relationship between context, individuals characteristics, and marriage. I conclude that traditional welfare state categorizations are of only limited use and alternative explanations need to be explored.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: McManus, Patricia A.
Commitee: Alderson, Arthur S., Pavalko, Eliza K., Powell, Brian
School: Indiana University
Department: Sociology
School Location: United States -- Indiana
Source: DAI-A 69/08, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Economics, Individual & family studies
Keywords: Comparative sociology, Earnings gap, Germany, Marriage, Sweden, United States, Wage differences
Publication Number: 3324527
ISBN: 978-0-549-75576-0
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