Essays in gender asymmetry and matching
This dissertation is a combination of two papers on marriage matching when there are asymmetries between genders. The first paper, "A Few Good (Wo)men: Gender Imbalance and Matching" analyzes how marriage, and self-improvement to improve marriage prospects, changes when the gender balance in a population changes. We show that highly desired individuals can become more selective as they become scarcer. One force behind this is that the incentive to improve increases as an individual becomes more likely to marry quickly, and decreases as one's desired mate becomes scarcer. In addition, the amount of improvement required increases as one's desired mate becomes more selective, and decreases as one's desired mate becomes less selective. Surprisingly, in our environment the less-represented gender has more incentive to improve themselves than the more-represented gender. This is largely an outgrowth of the asymmetry in how long it takes to meet a mate; the investment of the underrepresented gender is more likely to produce a payoff quickly. The second paper, "Income Aging," presents a model where the asymmetry in marriage timing is due to asymmetric uncertainty about future earnings. Women marry younger than men, although the median age at marriage has been rising for both genders over the past 50 years. In many random search models this is because women have a shorter window to have children, so they have a shorter window to search for a spouse. The changes in fertility are not large enough to explain the changes in women's marriage timing, and do little to explain the change in timing for men. In this paper we will look at a model where changes in the variation of income affect marriage timing. If it takes time for a man to learn what his income will be, women may not want to marry men until they can learn more about their level of success. Because there is less variation among women than men, men may not expect women to wait until the uncertainty is sorted out. In a simple model that follows this intuition can produce an equilibrium where men marry older than women.
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