IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Multi-Trait Matching and Intergenerational Mobility: A Cinderella Story


  • Chen, Natalie
  • Conconi, Paola
  • Perroni, Carlo


Empirical studies of intergenerational social mobility have found that women are more mobile than men. To explain this finding, we describe a model of multi-trait matching and inheritance, in which individuals’ attractiveness in the marriage market depends on their market and non-market characteristics. We show that the observed gender differences in social mobility can arise if market characteristics are relatively more important in determining marriage outcomes for men than for women and are more persistent across generations than non-market characteristics. Paradoxically, the female advantage in social mobility may be due to their adverse treatment in the labor market. A reduction in gender discrimination in the labor market leads to an increase in homogamy in the marriage market, lowering social mobility for both genders.

Suggested Citation

  • Chen, Natalie & Conconi, Paola & Perroni, Carlo, 2011. "Multi-Trait Matching and Intergenerational Mobility: A Cinderella Story," CEPR Discussion Papers 8605, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:8605

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: CEPR Discussion Papers are free to download for our researchers, subscribers and members. If you fall into one of these categories but have trouble downloading our papers, please contact us at

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version below or search for a different version of it.

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Daniel Aaronson & Bhashkar Mazumder, 2008. "Intergenerational Economic Mobility in the United States, 1940 to 2000," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 43(1).
    2. Erik Plug & Wim Vijverberg, 2003. "Schooling, Family Background, and Adoption: Is It Nature or Is It Nurture?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 111(3), pages 611-641, June.
    3. Markus Jäntti & Eva Österbacka & Oddbjörn Raaum & Tor Eriksson & Anders Björklund, 2002. "Brother correlations in earnings in Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden compared to the United States," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 15(4), pages 757-772.
    4. Anger, Silke, 2011. "The Intergenerational Transmission of Cognitive and Non-Cognitive Skills During Adolescence and Young Adulthood," IZA Discussion Papers 5749, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    5. Goldberger, Arthur S, 1989. "Economic and Mechanical Models of Intergenerational Transmission," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(3), pages 504-513, June.
    6. Gary S. Becker & Nigel Tomes, 1994. "Human Capital and the Rise and Fall of Families," NBER Chapters,in: Human Capital: A Theoretical and Empirical Analysis with Special Reference to Education (3rd Edition), pages 257-298 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Claudia Olivetti & Barbara Petrongolo, 2008. "Unequal Pay or Unequal Employment? A Cross-Country Analysis of Gender Gaps," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 26(4), pages 621-654, October.
    8. Patrick Legros & Andrew F. Newman, 2007. "Beauty Is a Beast, Frog Is a Prince: Assortative Matching with Nontransferabilities," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 75(4), pages 1073-1102, July.
    9. Sandra E. Black & Paul J. Devereux & Kjell G. Salvanes, 2005. "Why the Apple Doesn't Fall Far: Understanding Intergenerational Transmission of Human Capital," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(1), pages 437-449, March.
    10. Christine Schwartz & Robert Mare, 2005. "Trends in educational assortative marriage from 1940 to 2003," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 42(4), pages 621-646, November.
    11. Alp E. Atakan, 2006. "Assortative Matching with Explicit Search Costs," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 74(3), pages 667-680, May.
    12. Borjas, George J, 1993. "The Intergenerational Mobility of Immigrants," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 11(1), pages 113-135, January.
    13. Gunter J. Hitsch & Ali Hortaçsu & Dan Ariely, 2010. "Matching and Sorting in Online Dating," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(1), pages 130-163, March.
    14. Bjorklund, Anders & Jantti, Markus, 1997. "Intergenerational Income Mobility in Sweden Compared to the United States," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(5), pages 1009-1018, December.
    15. Becker, Gary S, 1973. "A Theory of Marriage: Part I," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 81(4), pages 813-846, July-Aug..
    16. Hirvonen, Lalaina, 2006. "Intergenerational Earnings Mobility Among Daughters and Sons: Evidence from Sweden and a Comparison with the United States," Working Paper Series 5/2006, Stockholm University, Swedish Institute for Social Research.
    17. Raymond Fisman & Sheena S. Iyengar & Emir Kamenica & Itamar Simonson, 2006. "Gender Differences in Mate Selection: Evidence From a Speed Dating Experiment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 121(2), pages 673-697.
    18. Raquel Fernández & Alessandra Fogli & Claudia Olivetti, 2004. "Mothers and Sons: Preference Formation and Female Labor Force Dynamics," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 119(4), pages 1249-1299.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item


    Gender Earnings Gap; Inheritance; Matching; Social Mobility;

    JEL classification:

    • C78 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Bargaining Theory; Matching Theory
    • D13 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Household Production and Intrahouse Allocation
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:8605. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.