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A Search Model of Marriage with Differential Fecundity

  • Eugenio Giolito

    (University of Maryland)

It is commonly observed that across societies and time, women tend to marry older men. The traditional explanation for this phenomenon is that wages increase with age and hence older men are more attractive in the marriage market. The explanation holds even where differences in fertility between men and women are taken in account. This explanation, however, involves an implicit assumption about female specialization in home production - an assumption that does not generally hold, especially in modern times. This paper shows that a marriage market equilibrium where women marry earlier in life than men can be achieved without making any assumptions about the wage process or gender roles. The only driving force in this two sided search model is the asymmetry in fertility horizons between men and women. When the model is calibrated with Census Data, the average age at first marriage and the pattern of the sex ratio of single men to single women over different age groups mimics the patterns observed in developed countries during the last decade (e.g. France, the U.S. and Sweden). However, the fit is less accurate for developing countries and for earlier decades in developed countries. This result may indicate a more important role of social norms and wages in the determination of marriage pattern in those cases.

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File URL: http://econwpa.repec.org/eps/lab/papers/0402/0402007.pdf
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Paper provided by EconWPA in its series Labor and Demography with number 0402007.

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Length: 55 pages
Date of creation: 18 Feb 2004
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpla:0402007
Note: Type of Document - pdf; prepared on WinXP; pages: 55
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://econwpa.repec.org

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  1. Bergstrom, T. & Bagnoli, M., 1990. "Courtship as a Waiting Game," Papers 90-12, Michigan - Center for Research on Economic & Social Theory.
  2. Jeremy Greenwood & Nezih Guner & John Knowles, . "More on Marriage, Fertility, and the Distribution of Inocome," Penn CARESS Working Papers 65f9ffed93b3a872de23c94c2, Penn Economics Department.
  3. Bergstrom, T. & Schoeni, R., 1992. "Income Prospects and Age at Marriage," Papers 92-10, Michigan - Center for Research on Economic & Social Theory.
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  10. S. Rao Aiyagari & Jeremy Greenwood & Nezih Guner, 2000. "On the State of the Union," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 108(2), pages 213-244, April.
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  12. Michael J. Brien & Lee A. Lillard & Steven Stern, 2006. "Cohabitation, Marriage, And Divorce In A Model Of Match Quality," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 47(2), pages 451-494, 05.
  13. Shelly Lundberg & Elaina Rose, 1998. "The Determinants of Specialization Within Marriage," Discussion Papers in Economics at the University of Washington 0048, Department of Economics at the University of Washington.
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  16. Burdett, Ken & Coles, Melvyn G, 1997. "Marriage and Class," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(1), pages 141-68, February.
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