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Anthropometry of Love: Height and Gender Asymmetries in Interethnic Marriages

  • Belot, Michèle
  • Fidrmuc, Jan

Both in the UK and in the US, we observe puzzling gender asymmetries in the propensity to outmarry: Black men are substantially more likely to have white spouses than Black women, but the opposite is true for Chinese: Chinese men are half less likely to be married to a White person than Chinese women. We argue that differences in height distributions, combined with a simple preference for a taller husband, can explain a large proportion of these ethnic-specific gender asymmetries. Blacks are taller than Asians, and we argue that this significantly affects their marriage prospects with whites. We provide empirical support for this hypothesis using data from the Health Survey for England and the Millenium Cohort Study, which contains valuable and unique information on heights of married couples.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 7146.

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Date of creation: Jan 2009
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:7146
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  3. Dohmen Thomas & Falk Armin & Huffman David & Sunde Uwe & Schupp Jürgen & Wagner Gert, 2009. "Individual Risk Attitudes: Measurement, Determinants and Behavioral Consequences," ROA Research Memorandum 007, Maastricht University, Research Centre for Education and the Labour Market (ROA).
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  8. Xin Meng & Dominique Meurs, 2009. "Intermarriage, language, and economic assimilation process: A case study of France," International Journal of Manpower, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 30(1/2), pages 127-144, May.
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  14. Robert Shimer & Lones Smith, 2000. "Assortative Matching and Search," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 68(2), pages 343-370, March.
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  16. Herpin, Nicolas, 2005. "Love, careers, and heights in France, 2001," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 3(3), pages 420-449, December.
  17. Roland G. Fryer Jr., 2007. "Guess Who's Been Coming to Dinner? Trends in Interracial Marriage over the 20th Century," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 21(2), pages 71-90, Spring.
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  19. Nicola Persico & Andrew Postlewaite & Dan Silverman, 2001. "The Effect of Adolescent Experience on Labor Market Outcomes: The Case of Height, Third Version," PIER Working Paper Archive 04-013, Penn Institute for Economic Research, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania, revised 05 Jan 2004.
  20. Vaillant, Nicolas G. & Harrant, Valérie, 2008. "Determinants of the likelihood of finding the right partner in an arranged marriage: Evidence from a French matchmaking agency," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 37(2), pages 657-671, April.
  21. van Ours, J.C. & Veenman, J.M.C., 2008. "How Interethnic Marriages Affect the Educational Attainment of Children : Evidence from a Natural Experiment," Discussion Paper 2008-7, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
  22. David Glowsky, 2007. "Why Do German Men Marry Women from Less Developed Countries?: An Analysis of Transnational Partner Search Based on the German Socio-Economic Panel," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 61, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
  23. Becker, Gary S, 1973. "A Theory of Marriage: Part I," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 81(4), pages 813-46, July-Aug..
  24. repec:iza:izadps:dp1142 is not listed on IDEAS
  25. Eugene Choo & Aloysius Siow, 2006. "Who Marries Whom and Why," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 114(1), pages 175-201, February.
  26. Richard H. Steckel, 1995. "Stature and the Standard of Living," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 33(4), pages 1903-1940, December.
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