January 2016

IZA DP No. 9671: Why Wait? A Century of Education, Marriage Timing and Gender Roles

We document that, over the 20th century, age at first marriage followed a U-shaped pattern, while the gender education gap tracked an inverted-U path in the United States. To explain this, we propose a multi-period frictionless matching model where educational and marriage decisions are endogenous. Two key assumptions are made: marriage requires a fixed cost and married couples cannot study simultaneously. This simple model can replicate the aforementioned stylized facts and is consistent with our empirical result that exogenous delays in marriage age caused by minimum age laws decreased the educational difference within a couple while increasing their educational attainment.