The Changing Identities of American Wives and Mothers
Journal of Economic Literature (Forthcoming)
Over the last century, resource allocations within families changed significantly, as did marriage matching patterns. College educated women became more likely to marry (and, to a lesser extent, have children) than less educated women. A large literature documents these patterns and proposes a variety of explanations. We review this literature. Then, we provide a unified empirical framework, which can integrate these mechanisms. We demonstrate the usefulness of that framework by employing it in decennial US censuses and showing that a combination of technological changes that increased the value of children’s education and enabled more educated women to devote more time to childrearing are consistent with multiple behavioral changes within marriage, on the marriage market, and before marriage.