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Multiple Traits in the Marriage Market: Does Diversity Sometimes Win?

  • Ramya Sundaram

    (University of Pennsylvania)

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    A critical part of forming a long-term partnership, be it marriage, employment, co-authorship or some other commitment, is having to trade off among the various traits of one's potential partners. The nature of this trade-off depends both on the type of commitment being considered, as well as on the person making the commitment. In this paper I focus on the impact that this trade-off has on the marriage market equilibrium. Agents differ from one another along more than one trait, and preferences over traits is not homogenous. This implies that all agents do not agree completely on the desirability of potential partners. I characterize both the core allocation as well as the equilibrium that results when there are costly search frictions. The main finding is that in the presence of frictions, an individual who is moderately appealing to diverse tastes among the opposite sex may make a better match than someone who is found to be stunning by one group, but leaves the others cold. Assortative matching patterns emerge along more than one dimension, with the result that there is positive correlation along more than one trait in matched individuals.

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    File URL: http://fmwww.bc.edu/RePEc/es2000/1666.pdf
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    Paper provided by Econometric Society in its series Econometric Society World Congress 2000 Contributed Papers with number 1666.

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    Date of creation: 01 Aug 2000
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    Handle: RePEc:ecm:wc2000:1666
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    1. Kenneth Burdett & Randall Wright, 1994. "Two-sided search," Staff Report 169, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
    2. Eeckhout, Jan, 1999. "Bilateral Search and Vertical Heterogeneity," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 40(4), pages 869-87, November.
    3. Laitner, J., 1990. "Marriage and Neutrality," Papers 90-13, Michigan - Center for Research on Economic & Social Theory.
    4. Shimer, R. & Smith, L., 1998. "Assortive Matching and Search," Papers 98-09, Michigan - Center for Research on Economic & Social Theory.
    5. Harold L. Cole & George J. Mailath & Andrew Postlewaite, 1998. "Efficient non-contractible investments," Staff Report 253, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
    6. Sattinger, Michael, 1993. "Assignment Models of the Distribution of Earnings," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 31(2), pages 831-80, June.
    7. BLOCH, Francis & RYDER, Harl, 1994. "Two-Sided Search, Marriages and Matchmakers," CORE Discussion Papers 1994028, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
    8. Burdett, Ken & Coles, Melvyn G, 1997. "Marriage and Class," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(1), pages 141-68, February.
    9. Gretsky, Neil E & Ostroy, Joseph M & Zame, William R, 1992. "The Nonatomic Assignment Model," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 2(1), pages 103-27, January.
    10. Kaneko, Mamoru & Wooders, Myrna Holtz, 1986. "The core of a game with a continuum of players and finite coalitions: The model and some results," Mathematical Social Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 12(2), pages 105-137, October.
    11. 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..
    12. Burdett, Kenneth & Coles, Melvyn G, 1999. "Long-Term Partnership Formation: Marriage and Employment," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 109(456), pages F307-34, June.
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