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A Direct Test of the Efficient Marriage Market Hypothesis


  • Suen, Wing
  • Lui, Hon-Kwong


This paper takes Gary Becker's efficient marriage market hypothesis at face value and directly confronts it with data from Hong Kong. The theory of optimal assignment is used to develop an empirical model of spouse selection, which resembles a Tobit model. This model can address positive or negative assortative matching as well as marginal product pricing in marriage markets. The authors also use a computer algorithm to solve the assignment problem for imputed marital output. The degree to which the actual pairing of husbands and wives corresponds to the optimal pairing provides a goodness-of-fit test of the efficient marriage market hypothesis. Copyright 1999 by Oxford University Press.

Suggested Citation

  • Suen, Wing & Lui, Hon-Kwong, 1999. "A Direct Test of the Efficient Marriage Market Hypothesis," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 37(1), pages 29-46, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:ecinqu:v:37:y:1999:i:1:p:29-46

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    2. Dick, Andrew R., 1995. "When does organized crime pay? A transaction cost analysis," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(1), pages 25-45, January.
    3. Garoupa, Nuno, 1997. " The Theory of Optimal Law Enforcement," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 11(3), pages 267-295, September.
    4. Isaac Ehrlich, 1996. "Crime, Punishment, and the Market for Offenses," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 10(1), pages 43-67, Winter.
    5. Konrad, Kai A. & Skaperdas, Stergios, 1997. "Credible threats in extortion," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 33(1), pages 23-39, May.
    6. Polinsky, Mitchell & Shavell, Steven, 1979. "The Optimal Tradeoff between the Probability and Magnitude of Fines," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 69(5), pages 880-891, December.
    7. Polinsky, A Mitchell & Shavell, Steven, 1991. "A Note on Optimal Fines When Wealth Varies among Individuals," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(3), pages 618-621, June.
    8. Polinsky, A Mitchell & Shavell, Steven, 1992. "Enforcement Costs and the Optimal Magnitude and Probability of Fines," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 35(1), pages 133-148, April.
    9. Skaperdas, S. & Syropoulos, C., 1993. "Gangs as Primitive States," Papers 92-93-02, California Irvine - School of Social Sciences.
    10. Grossman, Herschel I, 1991. "A General Equilibrium Model of Insurrections," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(4), pages 912-921, September.
    11. Shavell, Steven, 1987. "A Model of Optimal Incapacitation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(2), pages 107-110, May.
    12. repec:cup:apsrev:v:80:y:1986:i:02:p:471-487_18 is not listed on IDEAS
    13. Bebchuk, Lucian Arye & Kaplow, Louis, 1993. "Optimal sanctions and differences in individuals' likelihood of avoiding detection," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 13(2), pages 217-224, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Christopher A. Jepsen & Lisa K. Jepsen, 2006. "The Sexual Division of Labor Within Households: Comparisons of Couples to Roommates," Eastern Economic Journal, Eastern Economic Association, vol. 32(2), pages 299-312, Spring.
    2. repec:kap:iaecre:v:14:y:2008:i:4:p:448-459 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Arnaud Dupuy & Alfred Galichon, 2012. "Canonical Correlation and Assortative Matching: a remark," Working Papers 2012/40, Maastricht School of Management.
    4. Anderson, Gordon & Leo, Teng Wah, 2013. "An empirical examination of matching theories: The one child policy, partner choice and matching intensity in urban China," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(2), pages 468-489.
    5. Aloysius Siow, 2015. "Testing Becker's Theory of Positive Assortative Matching," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 33(2), pages 409-441.
    6. Macours, Karen & Janvry, Alain de & Sadoulet, Elisabeth, 2010. "Insecurity of property rights and social matching in the tenancy market," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 54(7), pages 880-899, October.
    7. Peter Groothuis & Paul Gabriel, 2010. "Positive assortative mating and spouses as complementary factors of production: a theory of labour augmentation," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 42(9), pages 1101-1111.
    8. Macours, Karen, 2002. "Insecurity of Property Rights and Matching in the Tenancy Market," 2002 International Congress, August 28-31, 2002, Zaragoza, Spain 24931, European Association of Agricultural Economists.
    9. Lisa K. Jepsen & Christopher A. Jepsen, "undated". "An Empirical Analysis of Same-Sex and Opposite-Sex Couples: Do "Likes" Still Like "Likes" in the '90s?," IPR working papers 99-5, Institute for Policy Resarch at Northwestern University.
    10. Sonia Dalmia & Paul Sicilian, 2008. "Kids Cause Specialization: Evidence for Becker’s Household Division of Labor Hypothesis," International Advances in Economic Research, Springer;International Atlantic Economic Society, vol. 14(4), pages 448-459, November.

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