Monday, October 27, 2008

The economics of stable marriages

I've been studying matching models, a branch of game theory that explores what happens when groups have to figure out how to pair off. These kinds of dynamics in job markets for freshly minted professionals, post-season bowl games, and most famously, marriage.

Here's the abstract from Bergstrom and Bagnoli, "Courtship as a Waiting Game." It cracks me up.
In most times and places, women on average marry older men. We propose a partial explanation for this difference and for why it is diminishing. In a society in which the economic roles of males are more varied than the roles of females, the relative desirability of females as marriage partners may become evident at an earlier age than is the case for males. We study an equilibrium model in which the males who regard their prospects as unusually good choose to wait until their economic success is revealed before choosing a bride. In equilibrium, the most desirable young females choose successful older males. Young males who believe that time will not treat them kindly will offer to marry at a young age. Although they are aware that young males available for marriage are no bargain, the less desirable young females will be offered no better option than the lottery presented by marrying a young male. We show the existence of equilibrium for models of this type and explore the properties of equilibrium.
For a guy who's been happily married since 22, it's an unflattering picture. Of course, five years later I'm still making close to $0 annually, so maybe that's time not "treating me kindly."

4 comments:

Janssen said...

Does close to $0 annually mean you're making just OVER zero dollars or you're getting close to almost breaking the $0 barrier and climbing in to the black numbers.

Janssen said...

And there should be a question mark at the end of that last comment.

Bart said...

Janssen was kind to leave out any comments about me (relatively old and penniless).

Erin said...

Perhaps your wife has been making up the monetary difference...