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A Search Model of Marriage with Differential Fecundity

Listed author(s):
  • 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
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. Shelly Lundberg & Elaina Rose, 1998. "The Determinants of Specialization Within Marriage," Working Papers 0048, University of Washington, Department of Economics.
  2. Becker, Gary S, 1973. "A Theory of Marriage: Part I," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 81(4), pages 813-846, July-Aug..
  3. Robert G. Wood, 1995. "Marriage Rates and Marriageable Men: A Test of the Wilson Hypothesis," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 30(1), pages 163-193.
  4. Burdett, Kenneth & Coles, Melvyn G, 1999. "Long-Term Partnership Formation: Marriage and Employment," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 109(456), pages 307-334, June.
  5. Ken Burdett & Melvyn G. Coles, 1997. "Marriage and Class," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(1), pages 141-168.
  6. Shannon N. Seitz, 2002. "Accounting for Racial Differences in Marriage and Employment," Working Papers 1009, Queen's University, Department of Economics.
  7. Bergstrom, Theodore C & Bagnoli, Mark, 1993. "Courtship as a Waiting Game," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(1), pages 185-202, February.
  8. Tracy J. Cornelius, 2003. "A Search Model of Marriage and Divorce," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 6(1), pages 135-155, January.
  9. Jeremy Greenwood & Nezih Guner & John Knowles, 2002. "More on Marriage, Fertility and the Distribution of Income," RCER Working Papers 489, University of Rochester - Center for Economic Research (RCER).
  10. Bergstrom, T. & Schoeni, R., 1992. "Income Prospects and Age at Marriage," Papers 92-10, Michigan - Center for Research on Economic & Social Theory.
  11. Steven Stern & Michael J. Brien & Lee A. Lillard, 1999. "Cohabitation, Marriage, and Divorce in a Model of Match Quality," Virginia Economics Online Papers 322, University of Virginia, Department of Economics.
  12. Aloysius Siow, 1996. "Differential Fecundity, Markets and Gender Roles," Working Papers siow-96-01, University of Toronto, Department of Economics.
  13. Weiss, Yoram & Willis, Robert J, 1993. "Transfers among Divorced Couples: Evidence and Interpretation," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 11(4), pages 629-679, October.
  14. 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.
  15. Aiyagari, S.R. & Greenwood, J. & Guner, N., 1999. "On the State of the Union," RCER Working Papers 462, University of Rochester - Center for Economic Research (RCER).
  16. Michael J. Brien, 1997. "Racial Differences in Marriage and the Role of Marriage Markets," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 32(4), pages 741-778.
  17. Lones Smith, 2006. "The Marriage Model with Search Frictions," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 114(6), pages 1124-1146, December.
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