Genes, Legitimacy and Hypergamy: Another Look at the Economics of Marriage
AbstractIn order to credibly "sell" legitimate children to their spouse, women must forego more attractive mating opportunities. This paper derives the implications of this observation for the pattern of matching in marriage markets, the dynamics of human capital accumulation, and the evolution of the gene pool. A key consequence of the trade-off faced by women is that marriage markets will naturally tend to be hypergamous - that is, a marriage is more likely to be beneficial to both parties relative to remaining single, the greater the man’s human capital, and the lower the woman’s human capital. As a consequence, it is shown that the equilibrium can only be of two types. In the "Victorian" type, all agents marry somebody of the same rank in the distribution of income. In the "Sex and the City" (SATC) type, women marry men who are better ranked than themselves. There is a mass of unmarried men at the bottom of the distribution of human capital, and a mass of single women at the top of that distribution. It is shown that the economy switches from a Victorian to an SATC equilibrium as inequality goes up. The model sheds light on how marriage affects the returns to human capital for men and women. Absent marriage, these returns are larger for women than for men but the opposite may occur if marriage prevails. Finally, it is shown that the institution of marriage may or may not favour human capital accumulation depending on how genes affect one’s productivity at accumulating human capital.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 6828.
Date of creation: May 2008
Date of revision:
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Other versions of this item:
- Saint-Paul, Gilles, 2009. "Genes, Legitimacy and Hypergamy: Another Look at the Economics of Marriage," IZA Discussion Papers 4456, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
- Saint-Paul, Gilles, 2008. "Genes, Legitimacy and Hypergamy: Another Look at the Economics of Marriage," IDEI Working Papers 509, Institut d'Économie Industrielle (IDEI), Toulouse.
- D1 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior
- D13 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Household Production and Intrahouse Allocation
- D3 - Microeconomics - - Distribution
- E24 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Employment; Unemployment; Wages; Intergenerational Income Distribution
- I2 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education
- J12 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Marriage; Marital Dissolution; Family Structure
- J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
- J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
- K36 - Law and Economics - - Other Substantive Areas of Law - - - Family and Personal Law
- O15 - Economic Development, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration
- O43 - Economic Development, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - Institutions and Growth
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-2008-05-31 (All new papers)
- NEP-HAP-2008-05-31 (Economics of Happiness)
- NEP-LAB-2008-05-31 (Labour Economics)
- NEP-LAW-2008-05-31 (Law & Economics)
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- Victoria, Sex and the City and why women get married
by Economic Logician in Economic Logic on 2008-10-22 10:34:00
RePEc Biblio mentionsAs found on the RePEc Biblio, the curated bibliography for Economics:CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
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