Journal of Economic Perspectives: Vol. 18 No. 2 (Spring 2004)


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Making a Name: Women's Surnames at Marriage and Beyond

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Goldin, Claudia, and Maria Shim. 2004. "Making a Name: Women's Surnames at Marriage and Beyond." Journal of Economic Perspectives, 18(2): 143-160.

DOI: 10.1257/0895330041371268


This paper tracks the fraction of college graduate women who kept their surnames upon marriage and after childbirth and explores some of the correlates of surname retention. Data from the New York Times, Harvard College alumni books, and Massachusetts birth records are used. Surname retention at marriage greatly increased from 1975 to about 1985 although Massachusetts birth records and the Harvard data show a decrease in the fraction keeping their surnames beginning around the early 1990s. The observable characteristics of importance in surname retention are those revealing that the bride has already "made a name" for herself.

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Goldin, Claudia
Shim, Maria


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