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Gender Differences and the Timing of First Marriages

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  • Díaz-Giménez, Javier

    ()
    (Universidad Carlos III de Madrid)

  • Giolito, Eugenio P.

    ()
    (Universidad Alberto Hurtado)

Abstract

We study the steady state of an overlapping generations economy where singles search for spouses. In our model economy men and women live for many years and they differ in their fecundity, in their earnings, and in their survival probabilities. These three features are age-dependent and deterministic. Singles meet at random. They propose when the expected value of their current match exceeds that of remaining single. If both partners propose, the meeting ends up in a marriage. Marriages last until death does them apart, widows and widowers never remarry, and people make no other economic decisions whatsoever. In our model economy people marry because they value companionship, bearing children, and sharing their income with their spouses. The matching function depends on the single sex-ratios which are endogenous. Our model economy has only two free parameters: the search friction and the utility share of bearing children. We choose their values to match the median ages of first-time brides and grooms. We show that modeling the marriage decision in this simple way is sufficient to account for the age distributions of ever and never married men and women, for the probabilities of marrying a younger bride and a younger groom, and for the age distributions of first births observed in the United States in the year 2000. The previous literature on this topic claims that marriage is a waiting game in which women are choosier than men, and old and rich pretenders outbid the young and poor ones in their competition for fecund women. In this article we tell a different story. We show that their shorter biological clocks make women uniformly less choosy than men of the same age. This turns marriage into a rushing game in which women are willing to marry older men because delaying marriage is too costly for women. Our theory predicts that most of the gender age difference at first marriage will persist even if the gender wage-gap disappears. It also predicts that the advances in the reproductive technologies will play a large role in reducing the age difference at first marriage.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 3539.

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Length: 30 pages
Date of creation: Jun 2008
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp3539

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Keywords: sex ratio; search; marriage;

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References

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  1. Aloysius Siow, 1998. "Differential Fecundity, Markets, and Gender Roles," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, University of Chicago Press, vol. 106(2), pages 334-354, April.
  2. Shannon N. Seitz, 2002. "Accounting for Racial Differences in Marriage and Employment," Working Papers, Queen's University, Department of Economics 1009, Queen's University, Department of Economics.
  3. Eugenio P. Giolito, 2010. "On Population Structure and Marriage Dynamics," 2010 Meeting Papers, Society for Economic Dynamics 1178, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  4. Greenwood, J. & Guner, N. & Knkwles, J., 1999. "More on Marriage, Fertility, and the Distribution of Income," Papers, London School of Economics - Centre for Labour Economics 9904, London School of Economics - Centre for Labour Economics.
  5. Gillian Hamilton & Aloysius Siow, 2007. "Class, Gender and Marriage," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 10(4), pages 549-575, October.
  6. Pierre-Andre Chiappori & Yoram Weiss & Murat Iyigun & Yoram Weiss, 2006. "Investment in Schooling and the Marriage Market," 2006 Meeting Papers, Society for Economic Dynamics 43, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  7. S. Rao Aiyagari & Jeremy Greenwood & Nezih Guner, 2000. "On the State of the Union," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, University of Chicago Press, vol. 108(2), pages 213-244, April.
  8. Giolito, Eugenio P., 2004. "A Search Model of Marriage with Differential Fecundity," IZA Discussion Papers 1082, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  9. Bergstrom, T. & Bagnoli, M., 1991. "Courtship as a waiting game," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 386, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  10. Elizabeth M. Caucutt & Nezih Guner & John Knowles, 2002. "Why Do Women Wait? Matching, Wage Inequality, and the Incentives for Fertility Delay," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 5(4), pages 815-855, October.
  11. Akerlof, George A & Yellen, Janet L & Katz, Michael L, 1996. "An Analysis of Out-of-Wedlock Childbearing in the United States," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, MIT Press, vol. 111(2), pages 277-317, May.
  12. Aloysius Siow & Xiaodong Zhu, 2002. "Differential Fecundity and Gender-Biased Parental Investments in Health," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 5(4), pages 999-1024, October.
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Cited by:
  1. Eugenio P. Giolito, 2010. "On Population Structure and Marriage Dynamics," 2010 Meeting Papers, Society for Economic Dynamics 1178, Society for Economic Dynamics.

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