Who Benefits from Marriage?*


  • *

    The authors wish to thank an anonymous referee for many helpful comments.


The phenomenon that married men earn higher average wages than unmarried men – the marriage premium – is well known. However, the robustness of the premium across the wage distribution and the underlying causes of the marriage premium are unclear. Focusing on the entire wage distribution and employing recently developed semi-non-parametric tests for quantile treatment effects, our findings cast doubt on the robustness of the premium. We find that the premium is explained by selection above the median, whereas a positive premium is obtained only at very low wages. The causal effect at low wages may be attributable to employer discrimination.