Essays on unemployment, marginal attachment and married women in the labor market

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Discouraged worker, Added worker effect, Passive job search, Propensity score matching, Cyclical labor market, Unemployment

Subject Categories

Economics | Labor Economics | Social and Behavioral Sciences


The research examines the labor market behavior of individuals at the margin of the labor force and that of married women. The first study asks whether discouraged workers and other individuals at the margin should be classified with the unemployed. The second tests whether married women increase their number of hours of work in response to their husbands' unemployment, while a related third paper investigates whether the receipt of unemployment insurance dampens that response. The data used are the short panels of the Current Population Survey and the Survey of Income and Program Participation for the years 1996-2004, permitting analyses of labor market behavior through cyclical changes in labor demand.

Using parametric discrete choice models, the results from the first investigation support the current classification: the unemployed and the marginally attached are highly distinct groups even during the last recession and a separate classification is justified. Nevertheless, the findings suggest that about half of the marginally attached have strong ties to the labor market, and even higher proportion for passive job searchers. Labor market attachment indicators can provide a business cycle sensitive adjustment for the BLS's alternative measures of labor underutilization.

One way families are believed to cope with the income shock from husbands' unemployment is for wives to increase their hours of work. Known as the added worker effect, the second research uses matching to estimate the average response of these wives, comparing them to the wives of men who are always employed. The general findings show a very small average AWE under favorable economic climate, and a totally dominated one in recession. Previous conclusions on couples' shared low propensities for employment appear substantiated among lower educated wives. However, spouses who were previously not working or who worked less than full-time and wives of manufacturing workers exhibit substantial and significant AWE.

Using parametric models, the third research investigates whether the receipt of unemployment insurance influenced the wives' behavior in the previous paper. The evidence is mixed: there is a greater likelihood that wives of recipients would be found working but conditional on working, they put in less hours compared with wives of non-recipients.


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