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Sequential Pre-Marital Investment Games: Implications for Unemployment

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  • James W. Boudreau

    (University of Connecticut)

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • James W. Boudreau, 2008. "Sequential Pre-Marital Investment Games: Implications for Unemployment," Working papers 2008-45, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:uct:uconnp:2008-45
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Cole, Harold L. & Mailath, George J. & Postlewaite, Andrew, 2001. "Efficient Non-Contractible Investments in Large Economies," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 101(2), pages 333-373, December.
    2. Pissarides, Christopher A, 1989. "Unemployment and Macroeconomics," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 56(221), pages 1-14, February.
    3. Leonardo Felli & Kevin Roberts, 2016. "Does Competition Solve the Hold-up Problem?," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 83(329), pages 172-200, January.
    4. Salop, Steven C, 1979. "A Model of the Natural Rate of Unemployment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 69(1), pages 117-125, March.
    5. 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.
    6. Diamond, Peter A, 1982. "Aggregate Demand Management in Search Equilibrium," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 90(5), pages 881-894, October.
    7. Peters, Michael, 2007. "The pre-marital investment game," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 137(1), pages 186-213, November.
    8. 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.
    9. 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.
    10. Michael Peters & Aloysius Siow, 2002. "Competing Premarital Investments," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(3), pages 592-608, June.
    11. Shapiro, Carl & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1984. "Equilibrium Unemployment as a Worker Discipline Device," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(3), pages 433-444, June.
    12. Guillaume Rocheteau, 1999. "Can an Unemployment Insurance System Generate Multiple Natural Rates?," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 6(3), pages 379-387, August.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Matching; pre-marital investment; unemployment.;

    JEL classification:

    • C78 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Bargaining Theory; Matching Theory
    • H30 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents - - - General
    • E24 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Employment; Unemployment; Wages; Intergenerational Income Distribution; Aggregate Human Capital; Aggregate Labor Productivity

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