Research seminars

Marrying for Money: Evidence from Changes in Marital Property Laws in the U.S. South, 1840-1850.

Finance

Speaker: Peter Koudijs
Stanford University

15 October 2015


One way in which marriage generates value is by allowing couples to pool property for the purposes of risk sharing and investment. This dimension of marriage has received little attention in the literature, in part because it is difficult to separate this effect from the gains from division of labor within the household. We measure the impact of a class of married women’s property laws introduced in the American South during the 1840s on family investment and assortative matching in the marriage market. These laws did not grant married women autonomy over their separate property; they merely shielded this property from seizure by their husbands’ creditors. This had the dual effect of mitigating downside risk while restricting a husband’s ability to borrow against his wife’s property; it also preserved the bulk of the wife’s property as an inheritance for the couple’s children. As such, these laws affected a couple’s ability to pool property and access credit without affecting the relative bargaining position of husbands and wives; this allows us to shed light on the importance of property in the marriage market. Using a newly compiled database of linked marriage and census records, we show that these property laws increased investment when the bulk of a couple’s property was owned by the husband; however, they had the inverse effect when most of a couple’s property was owned by the wife. In addition, we show that assortative matching on wealth declined after the passage of these laws, while assortative matching on age increased.

Finance

Speaker: Xavier Gabaix

13 June 2019 - T104 - From 2:00 pm to 3:15 pm


Finance

Speaker: Adriano Rampini

23 May 2019 - T105 - From 2:00 pm to 3:15 pm


Finance

Speaker: Luke Taylor

16 May 2019 - T105 - From 2:00 pm to 3:15 pm


Finance

Speaker: Jessica Jeffers

18 April 2019 - T104 - From 2:00 pm to 3:15 pm


Finance

Speaker: Emil Verner

4 April 2019 - T104 - From 2:00 pm to 3:15 pm



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