Department of Economics and Business Economics

The marriage gap: Optimal aging and death in partnerships

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  • Johannes Schünemann, University of Fribourg
  • ,
  • Holger Strulik, University of Göttingen
  • ,
  • Timo Trimborn

In this paper we explore how marriage affects longevity of men and women through income pooling and public-goods sharing as well as joint utility maximization of partners with different preferences and biology. We integrate joint decision making of couples into a biologically founded life-cycle model of health deficit accumulation and endogenous longevity, calibrate the model with U.S. data, and perform the counterfactual experiment of preventing the partnership. We elaborate four economic channels and find that, as singles, men live 8.5 months shorter and women 6 months longer. We conclude that about 25% of the marriage gain in longevity of men can be motivated by economic calculus while the marriage gain for women observed in the data is attributed to selection or other (non-standard economic) motives.

Original languageEnglish
JournalReview of Economic Dynamics
Volume36
Pages (from-to)158-176
Number of pages19
ISSN1094-2025
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2020

    Research areas

  • Aging, Gender-specific preferences, Health, Longevity, Marriage gap

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