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Husbands’ job loss and wives’ labor force participation during economic downturns: are all recessions the same?

October 8, 2014 Comments off

Husbands’ job loss and wives’ labor force participation during economic downturns: are all recessions the same?
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Earlier research showed an added-worker effect for wives when their husbands stopped working during the Great Recession (December 2007–June 2009) but not when husbands stopped working in recent years of prosperity (2004–2005). By including one recession per decade for the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s, this article builds upon that research by using Current Population Survey data to compare wives’ labor force responses to their husbands stopping work across three recessions to determine whether wives’ employment responses during the Great Recession differed from those during earlier recessions. Additionally, we hypothesize motivations for wives entering the labor force and consider the occupations they enter. Across all three recessions included in this study, wives entered the labor force more often when their husband stopped working. More nuanced analyses show that during both the Great Recession and the 1990–1991 recession, wives were more likely to seek work and find a job if their husband became not employed, while in the 1981–1982 recession wives were more likely to seek work but less likely to find a job. We also find that wives who started a job during the Great Recession or the 1990–1991 recession were more likely to enter service occupations than professional or managerial occupations, but this was not the case during the 1981–1982 recession. Furthermore, during the three recessions, college-educated wives who started a job were more likely than wives with less education to enter professional and managerial occupations relative to service occupations or other occupations. However, these newly employed college-educated wives were somewhat more likely to enter service or other occupations than their college-educated counterparts who were employed continuously.

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Mapping the Marriage Market for Young Adults

October 3, 2014 Comments off

Mapping the Marriage Market for Young Adults
Source: Pew Research Social & Demographic Trends

The share of American adults who have never been married is at a record high (20%), and young adults are at the leading edge of this national trend. For those in the “marriage market,” location matters. Pew Research Center has compiled census data on the number of unmarried men and women ages 25 to 34 in many of the nation’s metropolitan areas. We’ve also sorted the data by employment status. Finding a spouse with a steady job is a high priority for 78% of never-married women who may want to get married in the future(and 46% of men), though the pool of employed young men has shrunk.

CBO — Labor Force Participation Elasticities of Women and Secondary Earners within Married Couples

October 2, 2014 Comments off

Labor Force Participation Elasticities of Women and Secondary Earners within Married Couples
Source: Congressional Budget Office

Labor supply elasticities are often used to evaluate the effect of changes in tax rates on the total hours worked in the economy. Historically, married women have tended to have larger labor supply elasticities than their spouses because they were the secondary earners in a couple. However, those elasticities have fallen sharply in recent decades—a decline that has been attributed to greater labor force participation rates and increased career orientation among married women. Indeed, a growing share of wives earn more than their husbands, raising the question whether a person’s sex or relative earnings is the relevant factor affecting the sensitivity of participation to wage and tax rates. In this paper, we use administrative data to examine whether women or lower-earning spouses have larger labor supply elasticities. We present descriptive evidence on the share of women who are the primary earner and the frequency of transitions into and out of employment by sex and relative earnings. We find that lower earning spouses are more likely to start and stop working than women, except when a couple starts a family. We then model an individual’s work decision using a dynamic probit model to isolate the labor supply response to changes in tax rates. We estimate that the participation elasticity with respect to the net-of-tax rate of the secondary earner—the spouse who typically has lower earnings—is about 0.03, slightly higher than that for women, though both of these overall elasticities are small. Participation elasticities with respect to income for both women and secondary earners are effectively zero. Our estimates are robust to several alternative models, including alternative specifications of secondary earner.

Record Share of Americans Have Never Married

September 24, 2014 Comments off

Record Share of Americans Have Never Married
Source: Pew Research Social & Demographic Trends

After decades of declining marriage rates and changes in family structure, the share of American adults who have never been married is at an historic high. In 2012, one-in-five adults ages 25 and older (about 42 million people) had never been married, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of census data. In 1960, only about one-in-ten adults (9%) in that age range had never been married. Men are more likely than women to have never been married (23% vs. 17% in 2012). And this gender gap has widened since 1960, when 10% of men ages 25 and older and 8% of women of the same age had never married.

The dramatic rise in the share of never-married adults and the emerging gender gap are related to a variety of factors. Adults are marrying later in life, and the shares of adults cohabiting and raising children outside of marriage have increased significantly. The median age at first marriage is now 27 for women and 29 for men, up from 20 for women and 23 for men in 1960. About a quarter (24%) of never-married young adults ages 25 to 34 are living with a partner, according to Pew Research analysis of Current Population Survey data.

In addition, shifting public attitudes, hard economic times and changing demographic patterns may all be contributing to the rising share of never-married adults.

CRS — Same-Sex Marriage: A Legal Background After United States v. Windsor (September 4, 2014)

September 15, 2014 Comments off

Same-Sex Marriage: A Legal Background After United States v. Windsor (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

The issue of same-sex marriage generates debate on both the federal and state levels. Either legislatively or judicially, same-sex marriage is legal in more than a dozen states. Conversely, many states have statutes and/or constitutional amendments limiting marriage to the union of one man and one woman. These state-level variations raise questions about the validity of such unions outside the contracted jurisdiction and have bearing on the distribution of state and/or federal benefits. As federal agencies grappled with the interplay of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and the distribution of federal marriage-based benefits, questions arose regarding DOMA’s constitutionality and the appropriate standard (strict, intermediate, or rational basis) of review to apply to the statute.

Evolution of the Un-Wed Mother

September 10, 2014 Comments off

Evolution of the Un-Wed Mother
Source: Dominican University of California

According to the National Vital Statistics System, since the 1980’s, there has been a dramatic increase of unmarried pregnancies, close to an 80% increase. Drawing predominantly on historical information, and interviews with a multi-generational group of unmarried mothers, my research will show that although there are socio-economic factors which contribute to this phenomenon, the overwhelming factor is the increase in individualism, and that over the decades, unmarried women have evolved. With the release of societal pressures that once deemed them “fallen women” they no longer feel that they have to be married in order to provide a good life for their children.

Religion and Relationships in Muslim Families: A Qualitative Examination of Devout Married Muslim Couples

September 8, 2014 Comments off

Religion and Relationships in Muslim Families: A Qualitative Examination of Devout Married Muslim Couples
Source: Religions

Since 11 September 2001, Islam has been the center of many debates, discussions, parodies and publications. Many Muslims feel that their religion has been portrayed unfairly in Western media. The topics that seem to generate the most criticism relate to gender roles and the treatment of women, both inside the home and in society. The purpose of this paper is to examine the perceived role of Islam on marital and familial relationships from an insider’s perspective and to present participants’ reflections on sensitive issues, including gender roles, women’s rights and marital unity. Content analysis of in-depth interviews of twenty diverse Shia and Sunni Muslim couples living in the U.S. (n = 40) yielded three emergent themes: (1) Islam as a way of life; (2) Islam as a unifying force; and (3) gender roles and the treatment of women. These data suggest that, as perceived by our religiously involved “insider” participants, Islam influences marriage relationships, unites families and (when understood and lived properly) protects women from abuse and oppression.

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