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Rational Choice and the Price of Marriage

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  • Robert Cherry
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    Abstract

    This paper accepts the thesis that marriage decisions reflect rational behavior based on weighing benefits and costs. It develops a concept of a marriage price that measures the excess services one spouse provides to the other when there are differences in the number of men and women seeking marriage partners. This price includes income, time allocation to household activities, and control over forms of intimacy and beauty styles. In contrast to Grossbard-Shechtman's strict choice model, this model highlights the patriarchal privileges of husbands. It identifies some of the factors which affect marriage price in the United States and assesses the impact of recent U.S. governmental initiatives to increase marriage rates, including the male employment proposals made by William Julius Wilson. The theoretical model developed here shows that proposals that increase the personal value women place on marriage raise the marriage price they must pay, as well as increasing marriage rates.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Taylor & Francis Journals in its journal Feminist Economics.

    Volume (Year): 4 (1998)
    Issue (Month): 1 ()
    Pages: 27-49

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    Handle: RePEc:taf:femeco:v:4:y:1998:i:1:p:27-49

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    Web page: http://www.tandfonline.com/RFEC20

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    Keywords: Rational Choice; Marriage; Patriarchy;

    References

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    1. Rebecca Blank, 1995. "Teen pregnancy: government programs are not the cause," Feminist Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 1(2), pages 47-58.
    2. Folbre, Nancy, 1982. "Exploitation Comes Home: A Critique of the Marxian Theory of Family Labour," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 6(4), pages 317-29, December.
    3. Barbara Bergmann, 1995. "Becker's theory of the family: Preposterous conclusions," Feminist Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 1(1), pages 141-150.
    4. Nelson, Julie A, 1994. "I, Thou, and Them: Capabilities, Altruism, and Norms in the Economics of Marriage," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(2), pages 126-31, May.
    5. Robert G. Wood, 1995. "Marriage Rates and Marriageable Men: A Test of the Wilson Hypothesis," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 30(1), pages 163-193.
    6. Shelly Lundberg & Robert A. Pollak, 1996. "Bargaining and Distribution in Marriage," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 10(4), pages 139-158, Fall.
    7. David Good & Maureen Pirog-Good, 1987. "A simultaneous probit model of crime and employment for black and white teenage males," The Review of Black Political Economy, Springer, vol. 16(1), pages 109-127, June.
    8. Grossbard-Shechtman, Shoshana Amyra & Neuman, Shoshana, 1988. "Women's Labor Supply and Marital Choice," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 96(6), pages 1294-1302, December.
    9. Grossbard-Shechtman, Shoshana Amyra, 1984. "A Theory of Allocation of Time in Markets for Labour and Marriage," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 94(376), pages 863-82, December.
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    Cited by:
    1. Grossbard-Shechtman, Shoshana, 2003. "A consumer theory with competitive markets for work in marriage," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 31(6), pages 609-645.
    2. Jennifer Olmsted, 2002. "Assessing the Impact of Religion on Gender Status," Feminist Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 8(3), pages 99-111.
    3. Shoshana Grossbard-Shechtman, 2001. "The New Home Economics at Colombia and Chicago," Feminist Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 7(3), pages 103-130.

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