Three essays on female labor supply and assortative mating
MetadataShow full item record
This thesis focuses on female labor supply, human capital and assortative mating. The first chapter examines the link between the gap in spousal education and the labor supply behavior of married women over the life-cycle. Based on data from the 1965-2011 March Current Population Surveys and the National Longitudinal Study of Youth 1979, it documents that, all else equal, if the wife's education exceeds her husband's then she is substantially more likely to be employed than if she is less educated than her husband (up to 14.5 percentage points). A dynamic life-cycle model of endogenous marriage and labor supply decisions in a collective framework is formulated and structurally estimated. It establishes that the link between a husband's educational attainment and a wife's labor supply decision, at the time of marriage, produces dynamic effects due to human capital accumulation and implied wage growth. Returns to experience account for 57 percent of the employment gap observed between women who had married "down" and those who married "up". Counterfactuals also indicate that, alone, the changes in assortative mating patterns across cohorts, which are implied by the changes in the marginal distributions of education, are able to explain a sizable proportion (roughly 25 percent) of the observed rise in married women's labor force participation. The second chapter analyzes the evolution of educational assortative mating along racial lines. Previous studies suggest that preferences have changed across cohorts in the US to produce an increase in assortative mating. The analysis in the second chapter challenges the metric of measurement for assortative mating and shows that educational assortative mating has been stable over time for blacks and whites despite social and economic changes that might have impacted individual's incentives to form a marriage. The third chapter proposes a novel instrument for catholic school attendance that exploits the abrupt shock to catholic schools' human capital in the aftermath of the second Vatican council. It shows that the positive correlation between Catholic schooling and student outcomes is explained by selection bias.