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Love and Money by Parental Matchmaking: Evidence from Urban Couples in China


  • Fali Huang
  • Ginger Zhe Jin
  • Lixin Colin Xu


Parental involvement in marriage matchmaking may distort the optimal spouse choice because parents are willing to substitute love for money. The rationale is that the joint income of married children can be shared among extended family members more easily than mutual attraction felt by the couple themselves, and as a result, the best spouse candidate in the parents' eyes can differ from what is optimal to the individual, even though parents are altruistic and care dearly about their children's welfare. We find supporting evidence for this prediction using a unique sample of urban couples in China in the early 1990s.

Suggested Citation

  • Fali Huang & Ginger Zhe Jin & Lixin Colin Xu, 2012. "Love and Money by Parental Matchmaking: Evidence from Urban Couples in China," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(3), pages 555-560, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:102:y:2012:i:3:p:555-60

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Lena Edlund & Nils-Petter Lagerlöf, 2006. "Individual versus Parental Consent in Marriage: Implications for Intra-Household Resource Allocation and Growth," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(2), pages 304-307, May.
    2. Raquel Fernández & Nezih Guner & John Knowles, 2005. "Love and Money: A Theoretical and Empirical Analysis of Household Sorting and Inequality," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 120(1), pages 273-344.
    3. Becker, Gary S, 1973. "A Theory of Marriage: Part I," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 81(4), pages 813-846, July-Aug..
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    Cited by:

    1. Pauline Morault, 2017. "Arranged Marriages under Transferable Utilities," Working Papers halshs-01537971, HAL.
    2. Kai Konrad, 2015. "Affection, speed dating and heartbreaking," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 28(1), pages 159-172, January.
    3. Huang, Fali & Jin, Ginger Zhe & Xu, Lixin Colin, 2015. "Love, money, and old age support : does parental matchmaking matter ?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 7188, The World Bank.
    4. repec:eee:jcecon:v:45:y:2017:i:2:p:224-245 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Xu Lixin Colin, 2016. "Cheung, Becker and Marriage," Man and the Economy, De Gruyter, vol. 3(1), pages 65-76, June.
    6. Huang, Fali & Jin, Ginger Zhe & Xu, Lixin Colin, 2017. "Love, money, and parental goods: Does parental matchmaking matter?," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 45(2), pages 224-245.
    7. Shing-Yi Wang, 2013. "Marriage Networks, Nepotism, and Labor Market Outcomes in China," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 5(3), pages 91-112, July.
    8. Amavilah, Voxi Heinrich, 2013. "The Love Aspects of Human Capital and the Economic Activity of Countries," MPRA Paper 52686, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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