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Paulina Restrepo-Echavarría - FED of Saint Louis
Monday 08 April 2024, 02:30pm - 04:00pm

Marriage Market Sorting in the US


We examine shifts in the U.S. marriage market, assessing how online dating, demographic changes and evolving societal norms influence mate choice and broader sorting trends. Using a targeted search model, we analyse mate selection based on factors such as education , age, race, income and skill. Intriguingly, despite the rise of online dating, preferences, mate choice and overall sorting patterns showed negligible change from 2008 to 2021. However, a longer hostrorical view from 1960 to 2020 reveals a trend towards preferences for similarity, particularly concerning income, education, and skills. Our findings refute two out of three potential explanations: reduced search costs and growing spatial segregation - as potentioal causes of these long-term shifts. In particular, we conclude that people's capacity to process and evaluate information hasn't improved despite technological advancements. Among the remaining demographic factors we identify enhanced workforce participation and college attainment among women as the primary drivers of the U.S. marriage market transformation. Furthermore, we find that the corresponding changes in mate preferences and increased assortativeness by skill and education over this timeframe account for about half of the increased income inequality among households.

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