Interactions in the Labor Market Behavior of Couples over the Life Course

Chinhui Juhn, Simon Potter

NBER Retirement Research Center Paper No. NB 08-03
Issued in September 2008

Using the matched March Current Population Surveys for 1968-2007 we examine the extent to which husbands and wives coordinate their labor supply over different stages in the life cycle. We examine within couple correlations in year-to-year changes in weeks and annual hours worked. We find that correlations of couples' labor supply changes substantially rise with age, consistent with the notion that couples' time at home are substitutes during child-bearing ages, but are complements at older ages. We also find that labor supply changes have become more positively correlated with each successive birth cohort as participation rates of married men and women converged. The exception appears to be the youngest aged couples of the post Baby Boom cohort for whom husbands' and wives' hours strongly negatively co-vary upon birth of a child.

PDF (208 K)Abstract (12 K)Executive Summary (32 K)