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Building the Family Nest: Premarital Investments, Marriage Markets, and Spousal Allocations

  • Murat Nick
  • P. Randall Walsh

We develop a transferable utility model of the household in which the marriage market is characterized by (negative or positive) assortative matching, and spousal allocations are determined by premarital investments. We demonstrate that all sharing rules along the assortative order support efficient outcomes both in terms of premarital investments and intra-household allocations. The efficiency of premarital choices and household allocations then enables us to show that, for each couple, the marriage market generates a unique and maritally sustainable sharing rule that is a function of the distribution of premarital endowments and the sex ratios in the market. According to our results, transfers among spouses occur on two margins: premarital investments and intra-marital spousal allocations. Asymmetries in the sex ratios in the marriage markets produce gender differences in premarital investments and consumption that are larger for individuals with small premarital endowments than those with larger endowments. A corollary of these findings is that, when men are in short supply in the marriage markets, women can invest more than men even when the returns to investment are lower or the costs are higher for women. Copyright 2007, Wiley-Blackwell.

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Article provided by Oxford University Press in its journal The Review of Economic Studies.

Volume (Year): 74 (2007)
Issue (Month): 2 ()
Pages: 507-535

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Handle: RePEc:oup:restud:v:74:y:2007:i:2:p:507-535
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  1. Kaushik Basu, 2004. "Gender and Say A Model of Household Behavior with Endogenously-determined Balance of Power," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 2054, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  2. Bergstrom, Theodore & Blume, Lawrence & Varian, Hal, 1986. "On the private provision of public goods," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 25-49, February.
  3. Michael Peters & Aloysius Siow, 2001. "Competing Premarital Investment," Working Papers peters-01-02, University of Toronto, Department of Economics.
  4. Macleod, W.B. & Malcomson, J.M., 1991. "Investments, Hold Up and the Reform of Market Contracts," Cahiers de recherche 9114, Universite de Montreal, Departement de sciences economiques.
  5. Browning, Martin & Francois Bourguignon & Pierre-Andre Chiappori & Valerie Lechene, 1994. "Income and Outcomes: A Structural Model of Intrahousehold Allocation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(6), pages 1067-96, December.
  6. Hadfield, Gillian K., 1999. "A coordination model of the sexual division of labor," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 40(2), pages 125-153, October.
  7. McElroy, Marjorie B & Horney, Mary Jean, 1981. "Nash-Bargained Household Decisions: Toward a Generalization of the Theory of Demand," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 22(2), pages 333-49, June.
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