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Fatter Attraction: Anthropometric and Socioeconomic Characteristics in the Marriage Market

  • Chiappori, Pierre-André

    ()

    (Columbia University)

  • Oreffice, Sonia

    ()

    (University of Surrey)

  • Quintana-Domeque, Climent

    ()

    (University of Oxford)

We construct a matching model on the marriage market along more than one characteristic, where individuals have preferences over physical attractiveness (proxied by anthropometric characteristics) and market and household productivity of potential mates (proxied by socioeconomic characteristics), with a certain degree of substitutability between them. Men and women assess each other through an index combining these various attributes, so the matching is one-dimensional. We estimate the trade-offs among these characteristics using data from the PSID and the ECHP, finding evidence of compensation between anthropometric and socioeconomic characteristics. An additional unit of husband's (wife's) BMI can be compensated by a 0.3%-increase (0.15%-increase) in husband's (wife's) average (predicted) wage. Interestingly, these findings suggest that female physical attractiveness plays a larger role in men's assessment of a woman than male physical attractiveness does for women.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 4594.

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Length: 35 pages
Date of creation: Nov 2009
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: Journal of Political Economy, 2012, 120 (4), 659-695. [Link to the published version]
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp4594
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  1. Weiss, Yoram & Willis, Robert J, 1997. "Match Quality, New Information, and Marital Dissolution," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 15(1), pages S293-329, January.
  2. Hamermesh, Daniel S & Biddle, Jeff E, 1994. "Beauty and the Labor Market," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(5), pages 1174-94, December.
  3. Lundborg, Petter & Nystedt, Paul & Rooth, Dan-Olof, 2009. "The Height Premium in Earnings: The Role of Physical Capacity and Cognitive and Non-Cognitive Skills," IZA Discussion Papers 4266, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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  8. Pencavel, John, 1998. "Assortative Mating by Schooling and the Work Behavior of Wives and Husbands," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(2), pages 326-29, May.
  9. Climent Quintana Domeque & Sonia Oreffice, 2010. "Anthropometry and socioeconomics in the couple: evidence from the PSID," Working Papers. Serie AD 2010-16, Instituto Valenciano de Investigaciones Económicas, S.A. (Ivie).
  10. Averett, Susan L. & Sikora, Asia & Argys, Laura M., 2008. "For better or worse: Relationship status and body mass index," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 6(3), pages 330-349, December.
  11. Zhenchao Qian, 1998. "Changes in assortative mating: The impact of age and education, 1970–1890," Demography, Springer, vol. 35(3), pages 279-292, August.
  12. Christian A. Gregory & Christopher J. Ruhm, 2011. "Where Does the Wage Penalty Bite?," NBER Chapters, in: Economic Aspects of Obesity, pages 315-347 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Jaume Garcia Villar & Climent Quintana-Domeque, 2006. "Income and body mass index in Europe," Economics Working Papers 1001, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, revised May 2008.
  14. John Cawley & Markus M. Grabka & Dean R. Lillard, 2005. "A Comparison of the Relationship between Obesity and Earnings in the U.S. and Germany," Schmollers Jahrbuch : Journal of Applied Social Science Studies / Zeitschrift für Wirtschafts- und Sozialwissenschaften, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin, vol. 125(1), pages 119-129.
  15. Susan Averett & Sanders Korenman, 1993. "The Economic Reality of the Beauty Myth," NBER Working Papers 4521, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. 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.
  17. Sankar Mukhopadhyay, 2008. "Do women value marriage more? The effect of obesity on cohabitation and marriage in the USA," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 6(2), pages 111-126, June.
  18. 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.
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