The Korean Economic Review
Marriage and Men's Wealth Accumulation in the United States, 1860-1870
Sok Chul Hong (Sogang University)Year 2010Vol. 26No. 1
This paper explores how changes in marital status affected men’s wealth accumulation in mid-nineteenth-century America, using a longitudinal sample of Union Army veterans linked to the 1860 and 1870 census manuscript schedules. Controlling for the endogeneity of wealth and marital selection, this paper provides strong evidence that marriage had positive effects on men’s wealth accumulation, whereas ending a marriage had negative effects. The estimated wealth premium on married men is about 60 percent per marital year. This substantial wealth premium is closely related to wives’ specializing in household production, and farmers and craftsmen economically benefited from the unpaid labor of their wives.