Early Marriage and Subsequent Economic Well-Being: A U.S.-Japan Comparison

James Raymo, University of Wisconsin at Madison
Miho Iwasawa, National Institute of Population and Social Security Research, Japan
So-jung Lim, University of Wisconsin at Madison

We use comparable data from nationally representative surveys of women in the U.S. and Japan to estimate the extent to which early marriage is associated with subsequent income. We evaluate differences in this relationship across countries and by educational attainment. Results indicate that marriage before age 22 is associated with substantially lower income in both countries, that this relationship is partially explained by the higher likelihood of divorce among early marriers, and by the concentration of early marriage among women with lower levels of educational attainment. Education-specific analyses provided more support for expectations that the association with lower income should be weaker when the prevalence of early marriage is higher. In the U.S., we found a negative relationship between early marriage and income only among the most highly educated women whereas the coefficient for early marriage was significantly negative for Japanese women in all educational groups except the lowest.

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Presented in Session 5: Marriage and Union Formation