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Social norms, cognitive dissonance and the timing of marriage

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  • Balestrino, Alessandro
  • Ciardi, Cinzia

Abstract

We present a model of courtship in which the timing of marriage is affected by the cognitive dissonance between perceived norms and personal aims. We argue that as long as the family has been the main provider of social protection, marriage has been favoured by strongly felt social norms, and thus people accepted less-than-ideal partners early on in their search in order to minimise the dissonance caused by the non-adherence to the custom. Once the Welfare state has replaced the family, these norms have lost their strength, so that agents can afford the luxury of searching their preferred partners at length without feeling at odds with their social duties. The model yields predictions in line with relevant stylised facts: the raising age of marriage, the prevalence of assortative mating and the common occurrence of divorce in the early years of marriage. We finally discuss the impact of late marriages on fertility, and argue that there need not be negative consequences if the declining role of the family becomes socially accepted, and alternative arrangements are made possible and indeed encouraged by means of an appropriate family policy.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics).

Volume (Year): 37 (2008)
Issue (Month): 6 (December)
Pages: 2399-2410

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Handle: RePEc:eee:soceco:v:37:y:2008:i:6:p:2399-2410

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Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/620175

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Keywords: Marriage Cognitive dissonance Fertility;

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Cited by:
  1. Riener, Gerhard & Traxler, Christian, 2012. "Norms, moods, and free lunch: Longitudinal evidence on payments from a Pay-What-You-Want restaurant," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 41(4), pages 476-483.
  2. Maria Bas & Ivan Ledezma, 2007. "Market Access and the Evolution of within Plant Productivity in Chile," CESifo Working Paper Series 2077, CESifo Group Munich.
  3. Alessandro Balestrino & Cinzia Ciardi & Claudio Mammini, 2008. "On the Causes and Consequences of Divorce," CESifo Working Paper Series 2347, CESifo Group Munich.
  4. Smith, John, 2009. "Cognitive dissonance and the overtaking anomaly: Psychology in the principal-agent relationship," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 38(4), pages 684-690, August.

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