Two Essays on the Interaction between Marriage and Policy
Hanson, Devlin. “Two Essays on the Interaction between Marriage and Policy”. PhD, Boston College, 2013. http://hdl.handle.net/2345/3320.
This dissertation explores the interaction of government policy and marital decisions. In the first chapter, I estimate the effect a Vietnam War era marriage deferment on marriage rates of men eligible for the draft. Previous studies often find that in the United States government policies that alter marital incentives have small or insignificant effects on marriage. These results may be the product of weak incentives. To test this, I study a policy with stronger incentives -- the Vietnam War marriage deferments. I find that the marriage deferments accelerated the timing of marriage for draft eligible men, for instance, increasing the probability of marriage at age 21 by 15%. I also find that it induced marginal marriages, marriages that would not have occurred without the deferment, increasing the probability of marrying by age 30 by 1%. These results indicate that marital decisions can be responsive to government policies but only if the incentives are quite large. In addition, I find that those exposed to the marriage deferment had a 1% lower probability of divorce, suggesting that policy induced marriages may not necessarily be more likely to end in divorce. In the second chapter, I describe the characteristics of spousal immigrants, how they compare to other immigrants and how they contribute to the distribution of new legal permanent residents. In 2012, 48% of all new legal permanent residents obtained green cards through marriage. Yet, very little is known about these spousal immigrants and how they influence the overall distribution of new immigrants. In this chapter, I explore the characteristics of spousal immigrants, how they compare to the characteristics of their spouses and the importance of accounting for spousal immigrants when considering changes to immigration policy. I find that there is a lot of variation in the characteristics of spousal immigrants, but that they are very similar to their spouses across the dimensions of age, education, and nationality. This implies that any changes to immigration law that alter the characteristics of principals will be amplified by the changes in the characteristics of their spouses.