Invest to Match: Explaining Marriage Age Patterns and the College Gender Gap

Hanzhe Zhang, University of Chicago

I expand Becker's marriage market analyses and study marital, educational, and occupational choices in a dynamic equilibrium investment-and-matching framework. In my model, men and women face a college investment opportunity and a subsequent career reinvestment opportunity to improve their prospects in the labor market as well as in the marriage market. Unlike men who are distinguished by their income, women are distinguished by both their income and reproductive fitness. Women's reproductive fitness and associated value in the marriage market decline when they delay marriage. A unique, efficient stationary equilibrium offers sharp predictions. First, the model explains the relationships between people's age at first marriage and their personal income. Second, although people do not perfectly sort on their income, the equilibrium matching pattern remains tractable and explains empirical observations. Third, the recent global phenomenon that more women than men go to college naturally arises in equilibrium.

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Presented in Session 153: Marriage, Gender, Schooling, and Labor Market Outcomes