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Column 1 of table 3 shows that a higher relative wage does not meaningfully increase official reports of cohabitation. The point estimate indicates that a 10% increase in the relative wage reduces cohabitation by 1% and is statistically insignificant. Consistent with this, in the following columns, I find a rise in women living in a platonic arrangement. The estimates imply that 30% of women who would have married and resided with a husband instead live with another woman (a 1.2 p.p. increase relative to the 4 p.p. decline in living with a husband). There is a similar increase in the share of women living alone, although less precisely estimated, accounting for 35% of the decline in living with a husband. By comparison, I find a smaller increase (by 0.9 p.p, or 22.5% of the previously married women) in the propensity to live with an unmarried man.

Table 3.

Impact of Relative Wage on Cohabitation and Platonic Living Arrangements

CohabitationOnly Other Adult in HH Is:Live Alone2+ Other Adults
(1)(2)(3)(4)(5)(6)
Official ReportHusbandSingle MaleFemale
Effect of 10% increase in relative wage −0.004 −0.040*** 0.009** 0.012*** 0.014 0.006 
 (0.018) (0.011) (0.004) (0.003) (0.013) (0.012) 
Mean Y 0.159 0.457 0.066 0.059 0.259 0.159 
Observations 16,925 23,573 23,573 23,573 23,573 23,573 
Average wage Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes 
CohabitationOnly Other Adult in HH Is:Live Alone2+ Other Adults
(1)(2)(3)(4)(5)(6)
Official ReportHusbandSingle MaleFemale
Effect of 10% increase in relative wage −0.004 −0.040*** 0.009** 0.012*** 0.014 0.006 
 (0.018) (0.011) (0.004) (0.003) (0.013) (0.012) 
Mean Y 0.159 0.457 0.066 0.059 0.259 0.159 
Observations 16,925 23,573 23,573 23,573 23,573 23,573 
Average wage Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes 

This table shows the coefficients from estimating equation (1) rescaled to represent the effect of a 10% increase in the relative (potential) wage. The dependent variable is shown in the column heading, and the unit of observation is a cell defined by an education × race × state × birth cohort × year. The official report of cohabitation in column 1 is an indicator for whether the head of household reports living with an unmarried partner, and is only available from 1990 on. The outcomes in columns 2, 3, and 4 are indicator variables that take on the value of 1 if an individual lives in a two-adult household (i.e., there are two individuals who are at least 18 years old) where the other adult is her husband, a single male, or a female, respectively. The outcomes in columns 5 and 6 are indicators for living alone or with two or more other adults, respectively. Standard errors are clustered at the state level, and cells are weighted by the female population in cell. *p< 0.10, **p< 0.05, and ***p< 0.01.

Source: Census 1980, 1990, 2000, and ACS 2010.

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