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Now there's a research topic - the effect of Viagra on divorce rates.

4 out of 5 of my nephews (in their 20s) are shacking up, as is one of my nieces; that certainly wouldnt have been the case when i was their age, 35 years ago...how does that fit in?

Globalglassonion - this is a huge debate - is cohabitation more like marriage or more like being single?

For tax purposes (and most, but not all, other purposes) cohabitation is the same as marriage in Canada. But in the US, cohabiting individuals are treated as singles at tax time (and for purposes of the Earned Income Tax Credit too? a quick search suggests that they are). I'm not precisely sure, but it looks to me as if Bellou treats cohabiting individuals as singles.

The US tax system provides quite substantial tax breaks for marriage for people in certain economic circumstances (one spouse high income, the other low), and taxes marriage for people in other circumstances (if I'm right about the EITC, marriage is taxed for low incomes - and also I think widows and widowers have enormous incentives to co-habit rather than marry because of the structure of social security in the US).

This means that the incentives for marriage go up or down depending upon the state of the economy. But like I said in the blog, Bellou controls for this in her analysis. So like a lot of empirical economics, it comes down to 'do I believe that these controls are doing the job that they're supposed to?'

Absolutely terrific stuff - from a fellow U of R grad, no less!

Interesting!

I don't know if the results in the following paper are directly comparable, but (from the table at the end) barely 20% of couples are now meeting their partners online. That makes it appear dangerously close to the 18% increase in marriage propensity for the 21-30yo women in Bellou's paper. (I realize that the two papers are segmenting the population differently; I'm not an economist so I can be a bit sloppy).

http://paa2010.princeton.edu/download.aspx?submissionId=100828

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