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Back to the Future: Migration, Matching and the Power Couple Phenomenon in Sweden


  • Tano, Sofia

    () (Department of Economics, Umeå School of Business and Economics)

  • Westerlund, Olle

    () (Department of Economics, Umeå School of Business and Economics)

  • Nakosteen, Robert

    () (University of Massachusetts, Amherst, USA)

  • Zimmer, Michael

    () (University of Evansville, USA)


This paper contributes to a recent and growing literature addressing the phenomenon of high-credentialed power couples. It seeks to determine the extent to which precursors of power couple formation and location choice of couples at midlife are evident in young people during their formative school years. Its second objective is to extend the analysis of location choice by modeling location choice among different sizes of labor market areas, given different power status of the couples. Based on analysis of Swedish register data, we produce evidence that power spouses evolve from the population of high achieving school age individuals, the latter identified by high academic performance during the years of compulsory schooling. Other factors such as parental education and family income also play a role. In addition, there appear to be regional disparities in the evolution of power couples. The evidence also points to the presence self-selection arising from unmeasured heterogeneity, both in spouse matching and to a lesser extent in location choice. Regarding location choice, the results indicate that power couples display a disproportionate tendency to migrate from their regions of origin to large cities.

Suggested Citation

  • Tano, Sofia & Westerlund, Olle & Nakosteen, Robert & Zimmer, Michael, 2014. "Back to the Future: Migration, Matching and the Power Couple Phenomenon in Sweden," Umeå Economic Studies 881, Umeå University, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:umnees:0881

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    Early markers; education; location choice; marital matching;

    JEL classification:

    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • J12 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Marriage; Marital Dissolution; Family Structure
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity

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