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Accounting for age in marital search decisions

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  • Akın, Ş. Nuray
  • Platt, Brennan C.

Abstract

Spouse quality, measured by educational attainment, varies significantly with the age at which an individual marries, peaking in the mid-twenties then declining through the early-forties. Interestingly, this decline is much sharper for women than men, meaning women increasingly marry less educated men as they age. Moreover, quality has worsened for educated women over several decades, while it has improved for men. Using a non-stationary sequential search model, we identify and quantify the search frictions that generate these age-dependent marriage outcomes. We find that single-life utility is typically the dominant friction, though college women in the 1950 and 1970 cohorts are affected even more by deteriorating suitor quality. Regardless of educational status, individual choice (as opposed to pure luck) is pivotal in explaining marriage market outcomes earlier in life.

Suggested Citation

  • Akın, Ş. Nuray & Platt, Brennan C., 2016. "Accounting for age in marital search decisions," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 85(C), pages 245-271.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:eecrev:v:85:y:2016:i:c:p:245-271
    DOI: 10.1016/j.euroecorev.2016.02.008
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Kotlikoff, Laurence J & Spivak, Avia, 1981. "The Family as an Incomplete Annuities Market," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(2), pages 372-391, April.
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    5. Lones Smith, 2006. "The Marriage Model with Search Frictions," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 114(6), pages 1124-1146, December.
    6. 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.
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    8. Melvyn G. Coles & Marco Francesconi, 2011. "On The Emergence Of Toyboys: The Timing Of Marriage With Aging And Uncertain Careers," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 52(3), pages 825-853, August.
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    Cited by:

    1. Ş. Akın & Brennan Platt, 2014. "A theory of search with deadlines and uncertain recall," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 55(1), pages 101-133, January.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Marriage market frictions; Spouse quality; Reservation quality over the lifecycle; Non-stationary search; Mismatch;

    JEL classification:

    • C81 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Data Collection and Data Estimation Methodology; Computer Programs - - - Methodology for Collecting, Estimating, and Organizing Microeconomic Data; Data Access
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness
    • J12 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Marriage; Marital Dissolution; Family Structure

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