What women want and what men get

Family structure in the United States has shifted substantially over the last three decades, yet the causes and implications of these changes for the well-being of family members remains unclear. This paper exploits task-based shifts in demand as an exogenous shock to sex-speci fic wages to demonstrate the role of the relative female to male wage in the family and labor market outcomes of women. I show that increases in the relative wage lead to a decline in the likelihood of marriage for those on the margin of a fi rst marriage, and present suggestive evidence that these eff ects are concentrated among less-desirable matches. A higher relative wage also causes women to increase their hours of work, reduce their dependence on a male earner, and increase the likelihood of taking guardianship over their children. These findings indicate that improvements in the relative wage have facilitated women’s independence by reducing the monetary incentive for marriage, and can account for 20% of the decline in marriage between 1980 and 2010.

That is the job market paper (pdf) of Na’ama Shenhav from UC Davis.

For the pointer I thank Ben Southwood.


I would suggest that it is men who are avoiding marriage now, the cost of women is too high:


She's a pretty intelligent woman. I sincerely admire her business skills. She saw insecure men that needed validation and she sold them validation through books and conferences. Those men could get the same comforting message for free from their 70 years old mothers or friends in a bar, but it's on a book, she has a Ph.D, "Look the book says the monster under the bed is TRUE, I am right, I deserve respect". Begging for respect is not a manly way to get respect. Poor guys that quote this woman.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9wrxwHt9KAY (Jon Stewart regurgitating fake, outdated, and/or misleading data re: wage gap... of course, Krugman, Steinem, and a legion of other talking heads out there trying to make political hay would also suffice)

He's a pretty intelligent man. I sincerely admire his business skills. He saw insecure women that needed validation and he sold them validation through books and conferences. Those women could get the same comforting message for free from their 70 years old mothers or friends in a bar, but it’s on a book, he has a Ph.D, “Look the book says the monster under the bed is TRUE, I am right, I deserve respect”. Begging for respect is not a womanly way to get respect. Poor gals that quote this man.

Your argument convinces me: all men who disagree with you are loser wimps. Let me guess, you're a college graduate, right?

The issue core is alimony after divorce. This one-size-fits-all law is not optimal. There are cases where the second wife end contributing to alimony of 1st ex-wife.That's an issue that affects both college graduates and blue collar workers. This issue is unmentioned on the video. The video does address the contradiction of jail time if child-support payments are missed. What kind of incentive is that?

However, it's really difficult to get serious when reason #4 is "being relegated to the dirtiest parts of the house"? That's the definition of pandering people that see themselves as victims.

The 'core issue' depends upon the economic status of the male. For high status males the division of property is the key issue. For lower status males it is the alimony/child support.

Bill Burr has a great skit on this.

Re: The issue core is alimony after divorce.

Hardly. Alimony has become a rare beast in the age of two income couples since it is assumed that neither spouse is dependent on the other financially. You mostly just find it at the upper reaches of the income ladder where the stay-at-home-souse (usually the wife) is still a reality.

Child support is the real issue you should be highlighting.

Couldn't guys just go to Dubai or wherever where child support and alimony is illegal.

Child support is the real issue you should be highlighting.

To be precise. Money is fungible, however. If I'm not mistaken, alimony is commonly time-limited, vitiating the distinction between alimony and child-support further. (IIRC, only about 4% of all parties to a divorce receive alimony. Even 40 years ago, the figure was something like 18%. The one case I know of in my circle of acquaintances was a pretty egregious bit of favoritism to the wife on the part of the judge).

"Being relegated to dirty places" isn't trivial. No one wants to feel chased into a dank corner of their home.

I think the larger issue is that young women have little incentive to marry which in turns makes them unbearable, coupled with a better single life in general. I do not think most young men refuse to marry on the basis of child support. Indeed, the title of this post is "women want, men get": Women are the agents here, men merely portfolio assets to purchase or rent.

women have little incentive to marry which in turns makes them unbearable,

Or addled by the notion that the only thing which should govern them is present-tense consumer preferences. What's demoralizing is less the misbehavior of women than the succor this is granted by other women and white knights alike. One of my shirttails is separated from his wife as we speak. This is their second separation. Both had the same issue: her whoring around (this second time with his quondam 'best friend'). People around her are offering the excuse that he 'wasn't paying enough attention to her' (which might have a little something to do with him working and going to school full time so that they could have a higher income in the future).

Women are the agents here, men merely portfolio assets to purchase or rent.

Yeah, but demography's a bitch, which some of them discover in middle age (after they've put their husband out on the curb and then learn that they cannot trade up; Mme. Eat, Pray, Love ended up in a green card marriage with a bald guy who's noticeably older and slightly shorter than she is).

Perhaps "A Definite Beta Guy" has a cohesive idea of who are the "loser wimps." Or perhaps confusion is stated up front.

I have to wait to be told who is weak and pathetic, obviously.

"The rent is too damn high?"

You know what they say about "if it flies, floats, or..."

It price of ownership has clearly gotten to high.

For years women have been saying a "woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle."
But what the hell does a bicycle want a fish for?

From what I've seen, feminism has beaten the possibility of reciprocal giving love out of women because it's inculcated them to believe that any desire for a relationship or willingness to compromise with a man is a betrayal of "the sisterhood." All through university and young adulthood all the young women with whom I was acquainted and observed wanted to focus on their "careers" or adventures experiencing the world. Relationships, commitment and family were the last things on their minds. It was the young men who were interested in commitment and relationships, but the young women were too busy for anything more substantial than "hooking-up."

The sad thing is that women traded the notion of "dependence" in a relationship with a husband and family who might actually love and care for them for a dependent "relationship" with employers and other market actors who definitely do not.

Only 20%? I don't want to be critical but wasn't that a little obvious? The only surprise is that it is so low.

Did anyone ever think otherwise?

That was exactly my first thought! So basically this doesnt explain much... In my personal experience, it is just not so easy to find a suitable partner. Probably the definition of "suitable partner" is the biggest problem here, especially for women, but i guess for men they are also not willing to settle down with a "2nd or 3rd choice", because this does not offset the gain of getting laid with other women. And given that most people in my generation are just spoiled brats, this will obviously increase the likelihood of divorce.

Yes, I agree, it also struck me as low. But I think the 80% is things like demographics (US population is getting more elderly).

I don't even need to read the study to know that the remaining 80% was due to the great improvement in video games.

And free internet pronZ!

Not 19% or 22%, but 20%.

She should have made it 20.1% to be more credible, recall the AlexT post a while back.

It is said that the first survey of Everest came out to 29,000 feet and the Surveyor added 2 ft so that he could be believed.

I suppose the most positive finding is that delaying marriage reduces the risk of a bad marriage - the finding is for women but I assume it applies both ways since her bad marriage is also his bad marriage. Or is it? Maybe all those angry men at Trump campaign rallies are like those frustrated young Arabs without a wife he can torment and abuse, instead taking it out on strangers rather than his wife. What's a bad marriage to a boor.

Maybe, maybe not. The man agreed to the marriage. Presumably it is net-positive for him.

"that improvements in the relative wage have facilitated women’s independence": does the author mean "increases" when she (or he) says "improvements"?

Anyway, I wouldn't hire someone who slips in a moralistic word where presumably an objective term is available.

Is bridging the gap towards equal pay for equal work not an objective improvement? And anyways, why should research be free of morals? Would it bother you to read "pollution levels in Beijing has been improving/deteriorating" as opposed to just "increasing/decreasing"? Or, how about describing a massive victory against ISIS as a "success", which is also moralistic, presuming that they are worse than us? Should we merely report the numbers dead on either side and who presently has military control over a given area?

Most people who hire people want candidates who have some sense of morals (obviously there are exceptions).

"And anyways, why should research be free of morals? "

Injecting your personal views into your research is how you wind up with tripe like "Glaciers, Gender, and Science—A feminist glaciology framework for global environmental climate change:"


Point well taken. But the researcher is often best poised to interpret the moral implications of their research. Obviously we should be on the lookout for this, and this is absolutely one of the ways that I seek to find bias in research. Indeed, when editing academic manuscripts, words like "improve" receive special scrutiny, and I regularly change this to "increase/decrease" if the moralizing aspect seems too problematic.

However, I repeat, the researcher is better positioned to evaluate the moral implications of their work - the alternative is to leave all the moralizing to the journalists and politicians, who can hardly be considered as MORE neutral than the researchers themselves, on average (feminist glacier research perhaps being an obvious exception).

Indeed, being willing to use words like "improve" or "better" may provide useful information to the audiences about which priors may have influenced the broader interpretive framework. I would rather know where the research stands, personally, than to have it completely hidden from sight.

"And anyways, why should research be free of morals? "

This almost certainly translates to "And anyways, why should research be free of morals that I support?"

Sort of as above - if the researcher is influenced by a moral framework where one outcome is viewed as ethically superior to another, the audience is better informed if this is not cleansed from the final manuscript.

Bridging the gap towards equal pay for equal work happened quite a while back. http://freakonomics.com/podcast/the-true-story-of-the-gender-pay-gap-a-new-freakonomics-radio-podcast/ http://qz.com/186072/the-ninja-economist-takes-on-your-attacks-over-the-lack-of-a-gender-gap-in-tech-salaries/ https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/02/080204212846.htm and urban women make more than their male counterparts, so the wage gap could mean that men should be paid more.

I'm ok with moralistic tones in research so long as people can be bothered with facts and nuance.

This is really sexist. There's only one woman running for President and how many men? Did you see what Trump said to Megyn Kelly? It's basically rape culture up there!

On March 9th we had "Claims about money and happiness." Most of us accepted then that more money made more happiness, with diminishing returns.

In that light, "improvement" isn't a moral claim, it is an observation on the human condition. Mo money is an improvement.

Yes, but doesn't that go to dearieme's point? If the author just said more money it would be a subjective statement. Instead, the author said "improvements in the relative wage". Is that actually more money for women? Or is it less money for men? It's an unnecessarily confusing statement.

I'm stretching to understand the motivation for the objection. If any group, left handers or gingers, had lower relative wages, wouldn't an increase be reported as an improvement?

Honestly, I think it only becomes "moral" when the objection is raised.

Academicians have just as much of a "preference" for moralizing as anyone else and their taste for feminism is quite strong these days.

What is the trade-off here?

Is it possible that the real choice here is career over kids? Probably not career over monogamy, most men are perfectly happy with a long term, non-marriage monogamous relationship with no kids.

"most men are perfectly happy with a long term, non-marriage monogamous relationship with no kids."

Really? I would find that surprising, if true. Seems like men frequently want kids more than women, since more of the physical burden (at least during pregnancy) falls on women.

In fact desired family size is very slightly higher for men. There are lots of cites that Google will find for you.

That said, anecdotaly, there seems to be a substantial minority of men who are terrified of children. I'd bet that mostly that just wears off with time, but to the extent that it persists it's likely that average desired family size among men who want children is even higher.

I believe that younger men are subtly encouraged to overstate how terrified they are of kids, such as my younger brother who loudly boasts that he won't even touch a diaper. Whereas women are encouraged to overstate how much they like kids, a woman who doesn't fuss over a young kid is looked at as a weirdo in a way that a man isn't. In other words, maybe both sexes' expressed attitudes don't reflect their inner attitudes, in predictable ways.

I think part of SOME men's fear of children relates to the present legal environment, where the woman can walk off with the kids any time they want, seize half of household assets, and be required to pay for children they barely get to see. I see this as better than a world where women do not have the right to unilateral divorce and/or where men have zero legal obligation to contribute to the raising of children in the case of divorce, but there is definitely a (lesser, I think) element of injustice in a relevant share of situations.

Maybe the manchildren who frequently populate this blog's comment section are happy with the single life but for the rest of us, we actually prefer marriage and children.

They don't seem happy.

Right we can go from extremely unhappy to mostly unhappy.

If you see a 40-year-old childless couple who've been together for a while, the way to bet is infertility, not childless by choice. People are very eager to talk about being childless by choice; it's like being vegan or doing Crossfit. But people are generally private about struggles with fertility.

One thing you should never do is rag on people for not having kids if they fit that demographic. I recall some younger guy in my office joking about when a late-30s colleague was going to get around to it. Privately I knew the guy had been trying for years and was pursuing adoption after having given up on IVF. Don't inadvertently twist the knife.

"People are very eager to talk about being childless by choice; it’s like being vegan or doing Crossfit. But people are generally private about struggles with fertility."


You know the joke, "How can you tell if somebody's vegan? Don't worry they'll tell you. Applies to Crossfit, Gluten Intolerance and GMO Opposition and other fashionable and progressive bugaboos. I was hoping that moving to a non-religious place like Seattle would mean I wouldn't have to suffer the proselytizing like in other places in the US. Unfortunately the "evangelism" of their progressive faiths probably even more aggressive and oppressive than the Born-Again Christian types.

" pursuing adoption" is indicative of one of the great and ignoble rackets of all time, the difficulties involved in adopting a child.

> Don’t inadvertently twist the knife.

Been there, done that, and I still cringe when I think of it.

Worst part was while we were discussing demographics and having kids myself, I was trying to assure the other party that I wasn't condemning his choice not to have kids...


Thanks for this article and all the links you post around gender issues. I was disappointed you didn't post something similar on International Women's Day.

All this leads to lower live births per female which, eventually, leads to the disintegration of your culture. As women take over more of men's traditional responsibilities, you get more upset men, which leads to a violent society.

And that is why American violence is skyrocketing

"And that is why American violence is skyrocketing"

Well if you count video games.....

And vitriolic blog comments...

"A higher relative wage also causes women to increase their hours of work..."

So, can we all finally agree now that higher marginal tax rates do in fact disincentivize work?

Of course we can. But can the government increase social welfare through certain interventions to a greater degree than the allocation of those resources in a no-tax situation? Who is more influenced by marginal tax rates - people who earn 10k a year and have to work many hours for the next $100, or people who earn 1 million a year and have to work a few minutes for the next $100?

If government can increase social welfare by taxation, followed by spending and redistribution, then how much of which spending and how much transfers to whom? Shall we redistribute from the middle class to large businesses? Subsidize thousand dollar a person business luncheons through tax write-offs? Subsidies for child care? How about uncapped tax deductions for elite private education versus subsidies to universally affordable public education?

Governments do not tax people and then burn the money. They do stuff with it, much (certainly not all) of it very useful.

The gap after controlling for all variables is 4% in 1990s, 3% in 2000s and 2% in 2010s. Extremist try to ignore occupational control variables to say a larger gap than there really is. By 2030, the gap will close almost entirely, but by ignoring control variables, they will complain about a gap.

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