Marriage Market Equilibrium
38 Pages Posted: 7 Jun 2016 Last revised: 17 Jun 2021
Date Written: June 2016
The standard Beckerian analysis of marriage market equilibrium assumes that allocation within marriage implements agreements made in the marriage market. This paper investigates marriage market equilibrium when allocation within marriage is determined by bargaining in marriage and compares that model with the standard model. When bargaining in marriage determines allocation within marriage, the marriage market is the first stage of a two-stage game. The second stage, bargaining in marriage, determines allocation within each marriage. This analysis is consistent with any bargaining model with a unique equilibrium as well as with Becker's "altruist model," the model that underlies the Rotten Kid Theorem. Marriage-market participants are assumed to rank prospective spouses on the basis of the allocations they foresee emerging from bargaining in marriage. The first stage game, the marriage market, determines both who marries and, among those who marry, who marries whom (assortative marriage). When bargaining in marriage determines allocation within marriage, the appropriate framework for analyzing marriage market equilibrium is the Gale-Shapley matching model, not the Koopmans-Beckmann assignment model. These models have different implications for who marries, for who marries whom, and for the Pareto efficiency of marriage market equilibrium.
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