Does Marriage Matter for Children? Assessing the Impact of Legal Marriage in Sweden
2010 (English)Report (Other academic)
This paper examines whether parental marriage confers educational advantages to children relative to cohabitation. We exploit a dramatic marriage boom in Sweden in late 1989 created by a reform of the Widow’s Pension System that raised the attractiveness of marriage compared to cohabitation to identify the effect of marriage and the effect of selection bias on marriage estimates. Sweden’s rich administrative data sources enable us to identify the children who were affected by parental marriage due to this marriage boom. Our analysis addresses the question of whether marginal marriages created by a policy initiative have an impact on children. Using grade point average at age 16 as the outcome variable, we first show the expected pattern that children with married parents do better than children with cohabiting parents. However, once we control for observable family background and compare the outcomes for children whose parents married due to the reform with those for children whose parents remained unmarried, the differences largely disappear. The results from a sibling difference analysis are consistent with the conclusion that the differentials among children of married and cohabiting parents reflect selection rather than causation.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2010. , 39 p.
Swedish Institute for Social Research, ISSN 0283-8222 ; 3/2010
Research subject Social Work
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-38486OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-38486DiVA: diva2:310430