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Marriage Markets and Assortative Mating with Household Public Goods: Theoretical Results and Empirical Implications


  • David Lam


This paper analyzes marriage market equilibria when the gains from marriage result from joint consumption of household public goods. Assuming transferable utility within marriage, the paper proves that marriage markets will be characterized by positive assortative mating on wealth when spouses differ only in endowments and the gains to marriage result only from public goods. When spouses differ in wages and household public goods are produced at home, the results imply offsetting effects, with public good economies creating an incentive for positive assortative mating on wages and gains from specialization creating an incentive for negative assortative mating on wages. The results help explain the persistent lack of empirical support for Becker's prediction of negative assortative mating on wages, and have implications for empirical analysis of all joint living arrangement decisions.

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  • David Lam, 1988. "Marriage Markets and Assortative Mating with Household Public Goods: Theoretical Results and Empirical Implications," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 23(4), pages 462-487.
  • Handle: RePEc:uwp:jhriss:v:23:y:1988:i:4:p:462-487

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Dov Chernichovsky & Douglas Coate, 1977. "The Choice of Diet for Young Children and Its Relation to Children's Growth," NBER Working Papers 0219, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Sheshinski, Eytan & Weiss, Yoram, 1982. "Inequality within and between Families," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 90(1), pages 105-127, February.
    3. Heller, Peter S. & Drake, William D., 1979. "Malnutrition, child morbidity and the family decision process," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 6(2), pages 203-235, April.
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