Faculty Scholarly Dissemination Grants


Marital Matching Among US Residents: A Comparison of Immigrants by Region of Origin


Economics Department


Seidman College of Business




This paper examines how equilibrium sorting takes place in marriages between immigrants in the US from Mexico, Asia, the Middle East, Central America, South America, Europe and Africa. For comparison purposes it also examines patterns of marital matching observed between men and women born in the US. To do so, the paper constructs an empirical model of spouse selection based on Beckers efficient marriage market hypothesis, in which optimal assignments of marriage partners are derived from maximizing the household output function. By specifying a marital production function and introducing the influence of multiple individual characteristics simultaneously in the matching technology, this paper creates a matching algorithm and uses the estimated parameters to both isolate the characteristics that drive the matching process and to examine positive and negative assortative mating with respect to nonmarket (age, education) and market (hours worked, income) characteristics. Finally, to judge how well the model fits Beckers (1991) theory, the paper constructs match matrices which are also used to assess if marriages in the sample exhibit hypergamy (women marrying up) or hypogamy (men marrying up). Using the Integrated Public Use Microdata Series of the 2000 Census the paper finds support for positive assortative mating on age, education, hours worked and income in all regions examined with the exception of immigrants from Mexico and Asia for whom negative assortative mating on income is found. In contrast, results reveal complete specialization in US households with negative assortative mating on both hours worked and income. In examining matching patterns to isolate the factors that affect marital choice results indicate that while age of the female drives the matching process in all regions of the world examined, it is the hours worked by the male that affects mate selection and the organization of marriage markets among immigrants from Mexico, Asia, Central American, South America and Africa. In marriages between immigrants from the Middle East, Europe and among Americans it is the years of schooling of the male that has the largest impact on marital matching. Furthermore, estimated match matrices employing multiple individual traits reveal that American men are most likely to marry women with similar traits followed by men from Central America. Finally, the match matrices reveal that the practice of hypergamy is more common than hypogamy with the incidence being highest in immigrants from Mexico followed by South America.

Conference Name

International Multidisciplinary Academic Summit

Conference Location

Venice, Italy

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