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Can Anyone be 'The One'? Evidence on Mate Selection from Speed Dating

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  • Belot, Michèle
  • Francesconi, Marco

Abstract

Marriage data show a strong degree of positive assortative mating along a variety of attributes. But since marriage is an equilibrium outcome, it is unclear whether positive sorting is the result of preferences rather than opportunities. We assess the relative importance of preferences and opportunities in dating behaviour, using unique data from a large commercial speed dating agency. While the speed dating design gives us a direct observation of individual preferences, the random allocation of participants across events generates an exogenous source of variation in opportunities and allows us to identify the role of opportunities separately from that of preferences. We find that both women and men equally value physical attributes, such as age and weight, and that there is positive sorting along age, height, and education. The role of individual preferences, however, is outplayed by that of opportunities. Along some attributes (such as occupation, height and smoking) opportunities explain almost all the estimated variation in demand. Along other attributes (such as age), the role of preferences is more substantial, but never dominant. Despite this, preferences have a part when we observe a match, i.e., when two individuals propose to one another.

Suggested Citation

  • Belot, Michèle & Francesconi, Marco, 2006. "Can Anyone be 'The One'? Evidence on Mate Selection from Speed Dating," CEPR Discussion Papers 5926, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:5926
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    Blog mentions

    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. The short wingman – do humans use visual illusions to attract a mate?
      by Jason in Evolving Economics on 2010-09-23 11:01:00

    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Margherita Comola & Marcel Fafchamps, 2014. "Testing Unilateral and Bilateral Link Formation," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 124(579), pages 954-976, September.
    2. Ran Abramitzky & Adeline Delavande & Luis Vasconcelos, 2011. "Marrying Up: The Role of Sex Ratio in Assortative Matching," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 3(3), pages 124-157, July.
    3. Belot, Michèle & Fidrmuc, Jan, 2010. "Anthropometry of love: Height and gender asymmetries in interethnic marriages," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 8(3), pages 361-372, December.
    4. Margherita Comola & Marcel Fafchamps, 2014. "Testing Unilateral and Bilateral Link Formation," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 124(579), pages 954-976, September.
    5. Arcand, Jean-Louis & Fafchamps, Marcel, 2012. "Matching in community-based organizations," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 98(2), pages 203-219.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    assortative mating; marriage market; mate selection; randomized experiments; speed dating;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D1 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior
    • J1 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics

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