Terms of Endearment: An Equilibrium Model of Sex and Matching

43 Pages Posted: 8 Nov 2010 Last revised: 18 Feb 2021

See all articles by Peter Arcidiacono

Peter Arcidiacono

Duke University - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Andrew Beauchamp

Boston College

Marjorie B. McElroy

Duke University

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: November 2010

Abstract

We develop a directed search model of relationship formation which can disentangle male and female preferences for types of partners and for different relationship terms using only a cross-section of observed matches. Individuals direct their search to a particular type of match on the basis of (i) the terms of the relationship, (ii) the type of partner, and (iii) the endogenously determined probability of matching. If men outnumber women, they tend to trade a low probability of a preferred match for a high probability of a less-preferred match; the analogous statement holds for women. Using data from National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health we estimate the equilibrium matching model with high school relationships. Variation in gender ratios is used to uncover male and female preferences. Estimates from the structural model match subjective data on whether sex would occur in one's ideal relationship. The equilibrium result shows that some women would ideally not have sex, but do so out of matching concerns; the reverse is true for men.

Suggested Citation

Arcidiacono, Peter and Beauchamp, Andrew and McElroy, Marjorie B., Terms of Endearment: An Equilibrium Model of Sex and Matching (November 2010). NBER Working Paper No. w16517, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1703310

Peter Arcidiacono (Contact Author)

Duke University - Department of Economics ( email )

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Andrew Beauchamp

Boston College ( email )

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Marjorie B. McElroy

Duke University ( email )

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