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The Rise and Fall of Divorce - A Sociological Adjustment of Becker’s Model of the Marriage Market


  • Signe Hald Andersen

    () (Rockwool Foundation Research Unit)

  • Lars GÅrn Hansen

    () (Institute of Food and Resource Economics, University of Copenhagen)


Despite the strong and persistent influence of Gary Becker’s marriage model, the model does not completely explain the observed correlation between married women’s labor market participation and overall divorce rates. In this paper we show how a simple sociologically inspired extension of the model realigns the model’s predictions with the observed trends. The extension builds on Becker’s own claim that partners match on preference for partner specialization, and, as a novelty, on additional sociological theory claiming that preference coordination tend to happen subconsciously. When we incorporate this aspect into Becker’s model, the model provides predictions of divorce rates and causes that fit more closely with empirical observations.

Suggested Citation

  • Signe Hald Andersen & Lars GÅrn Hansen, 2010. "The Rise and Fall of Divorce - A Sociological Adjustment of Becker’s Model of the Marriage Market," IFRO Working Paper 2010/4, University of Copenhagen, Department of Food and Resource Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:foi:wpaper:2010_04

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Svarer, Michael, "undated". "Determinants of Divorce in Denmark," Economics Working Papers 2002-19, Department of Economics and Business Economics, Aarhus University.
    2. Rand Ressler & Melissa Waters, 2000. "Female earnings and the divorce rate: a simultaneous equations model," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 32(14), pages 1889-1898.
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    As found by, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Becker's marriage market cum sociology
      by Economic Logician in Economic Logic on 2010-07-07 19:36:00

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    marriage market;

    JEL classification:

    • J1 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics

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