The Male Marital Wage Premium: Sorting Versus Differential Pay

MEMORANDUM No 4:2007

The Male Marital Wage Premium: Sorting Versus Differential Pay

By Trond Petersen, University of California, Berkeley and University of Oslo Andrew Penner, University of California, Berkeley, Geir Høgsnes, University of Oslo

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We investigate whether the male marital and parenthood premia arise due to differential
pay by employers or from differential sorting of employees on occupations and
establishments. We investigate these premia in Norway using matched employeeemployer
data in the period 1980–97, a country where public policy has made it
easier to combine family and career, with the clearest first-order impact on women,
but with possibly attendant increased pressures on men to be more active in the
family sphere. We find that the effect of marriage, and to a lesser extent of children,
occurs mostly through sorting on occupations and occupation-establishment units.
The role of differential pay from employers is marginal in explaining the marital and
parenthood premia.We also find that about 50–75% of the martial premium is due to
selection. The men who eventually marry and/or have children sort into the higherpaying
occupations and occupation-establishment units even prior to marriage and
parenthood. There are no marital premia on wage growth within establishments, but
marital premia on promotions. Part of the marital wage premium is thus due to
higher promotion rates for married men.

By Matthew Whiting
Published Oct. 10, 2010 11:19 AM - Last modified Oct. 15, 2010 8:55 AM