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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The Two-Sex Problem and the Marriage Squeeze in an Equilibrium Model of Marriage Markets

  • Author(s): Bergstrom, Ted
  • Lam, David
  • et al.

We develop a model of marriage market equilibrium that can be used to study effects of the age distribution of men and women on marriage patterns. The model clarifies issues in the literature such as the two-sex problem and the marriage squeeze. In particular, the fact that women tend to marry men who are older than they implies that when cohort sizes fluctuate, there are shifts in relative supply and demand of marriage partners of the two sexes. We consider age difference between spouses as an equilibrating mechanism in marriage markets. The model follows Becker's application of the Koopmans-Beckman assignment model to marriage markets. We show that even large differences in cohort sizes can be absorbed by relatively small changes in the age differential of spouses, with no necessary changes in the proportion of men and women ever marrying.

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