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Can Anyone Be “The” One? Evidence on Mate Selection from Speed Dating

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Author Info

  • Belot, Michèle

    ()
    (Nuffield College, Oxford)

  • Francesconi, Marco

    ()
    (University of Essex)

Abstract

Marriage data show a strong degree of positive assortative mating along a variety of attributes. But since marriage is an equilibrium outcome, it is unclear whether positive sorting is the result of preferences rather than opportunities. We assess the relative importance of preferences and opportunities in dating behaviour, using unique data from a large commercial speed dating agency. While the speed dating design gives us a direct observation of individual preferences, the random allocation of participants across events generates an exogenous source of variation in opportunities and allows us to identify the role of opportunities separately from that of preferences. We find that both women and men equally value physical attributes, such as age and weight, and that there is positive sorting along age, height, and education. The role of individual preferences, however, is outplayed by that of opportunities. Along some attributes (such as occupation, height and smoking) opportunities explain almost all the estimated variation in demand. Along other attributes (such as age), the role of preferences is more substantial, but never dominant. Despite this, preferences have a part when we observe a match, i.e., when two individuals propose to one another.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 2377.

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Length: 39 pages
Date of creation: Oct 2006
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp2377

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Keywords: mate selection; assortative mating; marriage market; speed dating; randomized experiments;

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  1. Pencavel, John, 1998. "Assortative Mating by Schooling and the Work Behavior of Wives and Husbands," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(2), pages 326-29, May.
  2. Shimer, R. & Smith, L., 1997. "Assortative Matching and Search," Working papers 97-2b, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  3. Bergstrom, T. & Bagnali, M., 1991. "Courtship as a Waiting Game," Papers 91-3, Michigan - Center for Research on Economic & Social Theory.
  4. Alberto Bisin & Giorgio Topa & Thierry Verdier, 2004. "Religious Intermarriage and Socialization in the United States," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(3), pages 615-664, June.
  5. Heidrun C. Hoppe & Benny Moldovanu & Aner Sela, 2009. "The Theory of Assortative Matching Based on Costly Signals," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 76(1), pages 253-281.
  6. Burdett, Ken & Coles, Melvyn G, 1997. "Marriage and Class," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(1), pages 141-68, February.
  7. Linda Y. Wong, 2001. "Structural Estimation of Marriage Models," Computing in Economics and Finance 2001 222, Society for Computational Economics.
  8. David Marmaros & Bruce Sacerdote, 2006. "How Do Friendships Form?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 121(1), pages 79-119, 02.
  9. Edin, Per-Anders & Fredriksson, Peter & Åslund, Olof, 2000. "Ethnic Enclaves and the Economic Success of Immigrants - Evidence from a Natural Experiment," Working Paper Series 2000:21, Uppsala University, Department of Economics.
  10. Edin, P.-A. & Fredriksson, P. & Aslund, O., 2000. "Evidence from a Natural Experiment," Papers 2000:21, Uppsala - Working Paper Series.
  11. Eugene Choo & Aloysius Siow, 2006. "Who Marries Whom and Why," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 114(1), pages 175-201, February.
  12. Becker, Gary S, 1973. "A Theory of Marriage: Part I," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 81(4), pages 813-46, July-Aug..
  13. Micere Keels & Greg Duncan & Stefanie Deluca & Ruby Mendenhall & James Rosenbaum, 2005. "Fifteen years later: Can residential mobility programs provide a long-term escape from neighborhood segregation, crime, and poverty," Demography, Springer, vol. 42(1), pages 51-73, February.
  14. Lones Smith, 2006. "The Marriage Model with Search Frictions," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 114(6), pages 1124-1146, December.
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Blog mentions

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  1. The short wingman – do humans use visual illusions to attract a mate?
    by Jason in Evolving Economics on 2010-09-23 06:01:00
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Cited by:
  1. Abigail Barr & Marleen Dekker & Marcel Fafchamps, 2009. "Bridging the gender divide: an experimental analysis of group formation in African villages," ASC Working Papers 87, African Studies Centre (ASC), Leiden, The Netherlands.
  2. Comola, Margherita & Fafchamps, Marcel, 2009. "Testing Unilateral and Bilateral Link Formation," CEPR Discussion Papers 7406, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Michèle Belot & Jan Fidrmuc, 2009. "Anthropometry of Love Height and Gender Asymmetries in Interethnic Marriages," William Davidson Institute Working Papers Series wp950, William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan.
  4. Arcand, Jean-Louis & Fafchamps, Marcel, 2012. "Matching in community-based organizations," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 98(2), pages 203-219.
  5. Ran Abramitzky & Adeline Delavande & Luis Vasconcelos, 2008. "Marrying Up: The Role of Sex Ratio in Assortative Matching," Discussion Papers 07-050, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.
  6. Soohyung Lee, 2008. "Preferences and Choice Constraints in Marital Sorting: Evidence From Korea," Discussion Papers 07-042, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.

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