Accounting for age in marital search decisions
The average quality of spouse an individual marries varies significantly with age at marriage, peaking in the mid-twenties, then declining through the mid-forties, as does the hazard rate of marriage. Using a non-stationary sequential search model, we identify the search frictions that generate these age-dependent marriage outcomes. We find that the arrival rate of suitors is the dominant friction, responsible for 80% of hazard rate variation and 49% of spouse quality variation. Surprisingly, the distribution of suitor quality is a lower-order concern. Also, individual choice, rather than worsening frictions, is responsible for most of the decline in spouse quality.
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