Searching for Mr. Right: The duration of remaining single based on evidence from Japan
The age at first marriage for women has increased in Japan over the past decade. Previous studies show both rising female labor force participation and education levels attribute to the delay in marriage for women, but only for a small fraction. Applying search theory indicates that the utility of being singles, the arrival rate of marriage offers, the discount rate and change in distribution of men all affect the duration of remaining single. In theory, the change in variance of the distribution of men raises women's reservation utility but has an ambiguous effect on the duration of remaining single. This paper examines this hypothesis with a discrete proportional hazard model using the 1993-99 Japanese Panel Surveys of Consumers. The main finding is that highly educated women, working either full time or part time or as students and living in a larger city all tend to delay marriage. On the other hand, an increase in distribution of men in terms of mean characterized by wage attributes to raising the probability of getting married earlier for women. Men's distribution in terms of variance characterized by the unemployment rate turned out to be a factor for marriage delay in Japan. It suggests the larger the variance, such as a more risky situation for women, the less likely they are to encounter a Mr. Right. Moreover, the observed delay in marriage among Japanese women is also partially explained by the effect of decreasing mean and increasing variance of distribution of men due to long term economic recession
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