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Marriage-Related Policies in an Estimated Life-Cycle Model of Households' Labor Supply and Savings for Two Cohorts

Margherita Borella, Mariacristina De Nardi, Fang Yang

NBER Working Paper No. 23972
Issued in October 2017, Revised in August 2018
NBER Program(s):Public Economics

In the U.S., both taxes and old age Social Security benefits depend on one's marital status and tend to discourage the labor supply of the secondary earner. We study the effects of eliminating these marriage-related provisions on the labor supply and savings of two different cohorts. To do so, we estimate a rich life-cycle model of couples and singles using the Method of Simulated Moments (MSM) on the 1945 and 1955 birth-year cohorts. Our model matches well the life cycle profiles of labor market participation, hours, and savings for married and single people and generates plausible elasticities of labor supply. We find that these marriage-related provisions reduce the participation of married women over their life cycle, the participation of married men after age 55, and the savings of couples. These effects are large for both the 1945 and 1955 cohorts, even though the latter had much higher labor market participation of married women to start with.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w23972

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