Who Married, (to) Whom, and Where? Trends in Marriage in the United States, 1850-1940

39 Pages Posted: 2 Nov 2020 Last revised: 5 Feb 2021

See all articles by Claudia Olivetti

Claudia Olivetti

Boston College; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Daniele Paserman

Boston University - Department of Economics; Hebrew University of Jerusalem; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Laura Salisbury

York University - Department of Economics

E. Anna Weber

Boston University

Multiple version iconThere are 3 versions of this paper

Date Written: October 2020

Abstract

We present new findings about the relationship between marriage and socioeconomic background in the United States in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries. Imputing socioeconomic status of family of origin from first names, we document a socioeconomic gradient for women in the probability of marriage and the socioeconomic status of husbands. This socioeconomic gradient becomes steeper over time. We investigate the degree to which it can be explained by occupational income divergence across geographic regions. Regional divergence explains about one half of the socioeconomic divergence in the probability of marriage, and almost all of the increase in marital sorting. Differences in urbanization rates and the share of foreign-born across states drive most of these differences, while other factors (the scholarization rate, the sex ratio and the share in manufacturing) play a smaller role.

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Suggested Citation

Olivetti, Claudia and Paserman, Daniele and Salisbury, Laura and Weber, E. Anna, Who Married, (to) Whom, and Where? Trends in Marriage in the United States, 1850-1940 (October 2020). NBER Working Paper No. w28033, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3723270

Claudia Olivetti (Contact Author)

Boston College ( email )

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National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

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Daniele Paserman

Boston University - Department of Economics ( email )

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Hebrew University of Jerusalem

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Israel

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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IZA Institute of Labor Economics

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Laura Salisbury

York University - Department of Economics ( email )

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Toronto, Ontario M3J 1P3
Canada

E. Anna Weber

Boston University

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Boston, MA 02215
United States

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