‘Acting Wife’: Marriage Market Incentives and Labor Market Investments


Bursztyn L, Fujiwara T, Pallais A. ‘Acting Wife’: Marriage Market Incentives and Labor Market Investments. American Economic Review. 2017;107 (11) :3288-3319.
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Do single women avoid career-enhancing actions because these actions signal undesirable traits, like ambition, to the marriage market? While married and unmarried female MBA students perform similarly when their performance is unobserved by classmates (on exams and problem sets), unmarried women have lower participation grades. In a field experiment, single female students reported lower desired salaries and willingness to travel and work long hours on a real-stakes placement questionnaire when they expected their classmates to see their preferences. Other groups' responses were unaffected by peer observability. A second experiment indicates the effects are driven by observability by single male peers.


NBER Working Paper 23043

Last updated on 11/01/2017