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Sequential Pre-Marital Investment Games: Implications for Unemployment

  • James W. Boudreau

    (University of Connecticut)

Agents on the same side of a two-sided matching market (such as the marriage or labor market) compete with each other by making self-enhancing investments to improve their worth in the eyes of potential partners. Because these expenditures generally occur prior to matching, this activity has come to be known in recent literature (Peters, 2007) as pre-marital investment. This paper builds on that literature by considering the case of sequential pre-marital investment, analyzing a matching game in which one side of the market invests first, followed by the other. Interpreting the first group of agents as workers and the other group as firms, the paper provides a new perspective on the incentive structure that is inherent in labor markets. It also demonstrates that a positive rate of unemployment can exist even in the absence of matching frictions. Policy implications follow, as the prevailing set of equilibria can be altered by restricting entry into the workforce, providing unemployment insurance, or subsidizing pre-marital investment.

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Paper provided by University of Connecticut, Department of Economics in its series Working papers with number 2008-45.

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Length: 27 pages
Date of creation: Oct 2008
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:uct:uconnp:2008-45
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  1. Felli, L. & Roberts, K., 2000. "Does Competition Solve the Hold-Up Problem?," Economics Papers 2000-w11, Economics Group, Nuffield College, University of Oxford.
  2. Peters, Michael, 2004. "The Pre-Marital Investment Game," Microeconomics.ca working papers peters-04-02-18-01-42-09, Vancouver School of Economics, revised 13 Sep 2006.
  3. Guillaume Rocheteau, 1999. "Can an Unemployment Insurance System Generate Multiple Natural Rates?," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer, vol. 6(3), pages 379-387, August.
  4. Harold L. Cole & George J. Mailath & Andrew Postlewaite, . "Efficient Non-Contractible Investments in Large Economies," CARESS Working Papres 00-05, University of Pennsylvania Center for Analytic Research and Economics in the Social Sciences.
  5. Michael Peters & Aloysius Siow, 2002. "Competing Premarital Investments," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(3), pages 592-608, June.
  6. Shapiro, Carl & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1984. "Equilibrium Unemployment as a Worker Discipline Device," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(3), pages 433-44, June.
  7. Diamond, Peter A, 1982. "Aggregate Demand Management in Search Equilibrium," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 90(5), pages 881-94, October.
  8. Salop, Steven C, 1979. "A Model of the Natural Rate of Unemployment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 69(1), pages 117-25, March.
  9. Pissarides, Christopher A, 1989. "Unemployment and Macroeconomics," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 56(221), pages 1-14, February.
  10. Roth, Alvin E. & Sotomayor, Marilda, 1992. "Two-sided matching," Handbook of Game Theory with Economic Applications, in: R.J. Aumann & S. Hart (ed.), Handbook of Game Theory with Economic Applications, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 16, pages 485-541 Elsevier.
  11. Howitt, Peter & McAfee, R Preston, 1987. "Costly Search and Recruiting," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 28(1), pages 89-107, February.
  12. Harold L. Cole & George J. Mailath & Andrew Postlewaite, . "Efficient Non-Contractible Investments," Penn CARESS Working Papers 08d6793d32cab8f6e1f46dac0, Penn Economics Department.
  13. Rocheteau, Guillaume, 1999. "Balanced-Budget Rules and Indeterminacy of the Equilibrium Unemployment Rate," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 51(3), pages 399-409, July.
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