Changing the Price of Marriage: Evidence from Blood Test Requirements

Kasey Buckles, University of Notre Dame
Melanie Guldi, Mount Holyoke College
Joseph P. Price, Brigham Young University

We exploit variation in state laws about blood test requirements for a marriage license to examine the impact of changes in the price of marriage. We find that lowering the price of marriage increases the marriage rate, particularly among lower educated women. We provide evidence of this effect using marriage certificate data, natality data indicating whether the mother is married at the time of birth, and Census data reporting current marital status among women who had their first child in the last three years. We find that among new mothers, about 60% of the deterred marriages chose to cohabit instead and the other 40% remain married.

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Presented in Poster Session 6