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Courtship as a Waiting Game

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Author Info

  • Bergstrom, T.
  • Bagnoli, M.

Abstract

In most times and places, women on average marry men who are older than themselves. We propose a partial explanation for this difference and for why it is diminishing. In a society where the economic roles of males are more varied and specialized than the roles of females, it may be that the relative desirability of females as marriage partners becomes evident at an earlier age for females than it does for males. We study an equilibrium model in which the males who regard their prospects as unusually good choose to wait until their economic success is revealed before choosing a bride. In equilibrium, the most desirable young females choose successful older males. Young males who do not believe that time will not treat them kindly will offer to marry at a young age. Although they are aware that young males available for marriage are no bargain, the less desirable young females will be offered no better option than the lottery presented by marrying a young male. We show the existence of equilibrium for models of this type and explore the properties of equilibrium.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Michigan - Center for Research on Economic & Social Theory in its series Papers with number 90-12.

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Length: 13 pages
Date of creation: 1990
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:fth:michet:90-12

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Postal: UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN, DEPARTMENT OF ECONOMICS CENTER FOR RESEARCH ON ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL THEORY, ANN ARBOR MICHIGAN U.S.A.

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Keywords: game theory;

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References

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  1. Becker, Gary S, 1974. "A Theory of Marriage: Part II," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(2), pages S11-S26, Part II, .
  2. Flinn, Christopher J & Heckman, James J, 1983. "Are Unemployment and Out of the Labor Force Behaviorally Distinct Labor Force States?," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 1(1), pages 28-42, January.
  3. Egbert Dierker, 1989. "Competition for Customers," Discussion Paper Serie A 244, University of Bonn, Germany.
  4. Bergstrom, T & Schoeni, R-F, 1996. "Income Prospects and Age-at-Marriage," Papers 96-18, RAND - Reprint Series.
  5. Bagnoli, M. & Bergstrom, T., 1989. "Log-Concave Probability And Its Applications," Papers 89-23, Michigan - Center for Research on Economic & Social Theory.
  6. Keeley, Michael C, 1977. "The Economics of Family Formation," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 15(2), pages 238-50, April.
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