Marriage and the Intergenerational Mobility of Women: Evidence from Marriage Certificates 1850-1910, with Katherine Eriksson and Jacqueline Craig

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The literature finds a high degree of economic mobility for men in the 19th century in comparison to today. However, due to data limitations, changes in female economic mobility over time are not well understood. Using a set of marriage certificates from Massachusetts over the period of 1850-1910, we link men and women to their childhood and adult census records to obtain a measure of occupational standing across two generations. Intergenerational mobility for women is higher than for men during 1850-1880. Between 1880-1910, men’s mobility increases to converge with that of women. We also find evidence of assortative mating based on the correlation in occupational income score and real estate wealth between the husband’s and wife’s fathers.

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