Working Papers

The Male Marital Wage Premium

Sorting Versus Differential Pay


We investigate whether the male marital and parenthood premia arise due to differential pay by employers or from differential sorting of employees on occupations and establishments. We investigate these premia in Norway using matched employee-employer data in the period 1980–97, a country where public policy has made it easier to combine family and career, with the clearest firstorder impact on women, but with possibly attendant increased pressures on men to be more active in the family sphere. We find that the effect of marriage, and to a lesser extent of children, occurs mostly through sorting on occupations and occupation-establishment units. The role of differential pay from employers is marginal in explaining the marital and parenthood premia. We also find that about 50–75% of the martial premium is due to selection. The men who eventually marry and/or have children sort into the higher paying occupations and occupation-establishment units even prior to marriage and parenthood. There are no marital premia on wage growth within establishments, but marital premia on promotions. Part of the marital wage premium is thus due to higher promotion rates for married men.