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Terms of Endearment: An Equilibrium Model of Sex and Matching

  • Peter Arcidiacono
  • Andrew Beauchamp
  • Marjorie McElroy

We develop a directed search model of relationship formation which can disentangle male and female preferences for types of partners and for different relationship terms using only a cross-section of observed matches. Individuals direct their search to a particular type of match on the basis of (i) the terms of the relationship, (ii) the type of partner, and (iii) the endogenously determined probability of matching. If men outnumber women, they tend to trade a low probability of a preferred match for a high probability of a less-preferred match; the analogous statement holds for women. Using data from National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health we estimate the equilibrium matching model with high school relationships. Variation in gender ratios is used to uncover male and female preferences. Estimates from the structural model match subjective data on whether sex would occur in one's ideal relationship. The equilibrium result shows that some women would ideally not have sex, but do so out of matching concerns; the reverse is true for men.

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Paper provided by Duke University, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 12-21.

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Length: 53
Date of creation: 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:duk:dukeec:12-21
Contact details of provider: Postal: Department of Economics Duke University 213 Social Sciences Building Box 90097 Durham, NC 27708-0097
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Web page: http://econ.duke.edu/

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  1. Audra J. Bowlus & Zvi Eckstein, 2002. "Discrimination and Skill Differences in an Equilibrium Search Model," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 43(4), pages 1309-1345, November.
  2. Petrongolo, Barbara & Pissarides, Christopher, 2000. "Looking Into The Black Box: A Survey Of The Matching Function," CEPR Discussion Papers 2409, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Claudia Goldin & Lawrence F. Katz & Ilyana Kuziemko, 2006. "The Homecoming of American College Women: The Reversal of the College Gender Gap," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 20(4), pages 133-156, Fall.
  4. Stevenson, Betsey & Wolfers, Justin, 2009. "The Paradox of Declining Female Happiness," IZA Discussion Papers 4200, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  5. Chiappori, P.A., 1989. "Collective Labour Supply and Welfare," DELTA Working Papers 89-07, DELTA (Ecole normale supérieure).
  6. Jeremy T. Fox, 2009. "Identification in Matching Games," NBER Working Papers 15092, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Ran Abramitzky & Adeline Delavande & Luis Vasconcelos, 2008. "Marrying Up: The Role of Sex Ratio in Assortative Matching," Discussion Papers 07-050, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.
  8. Wong, Linda, 2001. "Structural Estimation of Marriage Models," 10th International Conference on Panel Data, Berlin, July 5-6, 2002 A1-1, International Conferences on Panel Data.
  9. Robert J. Willis, 1999. "A Theory of Out-of-Wedlock Childbearing," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(S6), pages S33-S64, December.
  10. Aloysius Siow, 2009. "Testing Becker's Theory of Positive Assortative Matching," Working Papers tecipa-356, University of Toronto, Department of Economics.
  11. Marjorie B. McElroy, 1990. "The Empirical Content of Nash-Bargained Household Behavior," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 25(4), pages 559-583.
  12. 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.
  13. Gunter J. Hitsch & Ali Horta�su & Dan Ariely, 2010. "Matching and Sorting in Online Dating," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(1), pages 130-63, March.
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