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Melvin Stephens, Estimating Program Benefits

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Marriage Markets and Assortative Mating with Household Public Goods: Theoretical Results and Empirical Implications

Publication Abstract

Lam, David. 1988. "Marriage Markets and Assortative Mating with Household Public Goods: Theoretical Results and Empirical Implications." The Journal of Human Resources, 23(4): 462-87.

This paper analyzes marriage market equilibria when the gains from marriage result from joint consumption of household public goods. Assuming transferable utility within marriage, the paper proves that marriage markets will be characterized by positive assortative mating on wealth when spouses differ only in endowments and the gains to marriage result only from public goods. When spouses differ in wages and household public goods are produced at home, the results imply offsetting effects, with public good economies creating an incentive for positive assortative mating on wages and gains from specialization creating an incentive for negative assortative mating on wages. The results help explain the persistent lack of empirical support for Becker's prediction of negative assortative mating on wages, and have implications for empirical analysis of all joint living arrangement decisions.

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