Rational Choice and the Price of Marriage

Posted: 5 Sep 1998

See all articles by Robert Cherry

Robert Cherry

CUNY Brooklyn College - Department of Economics


This paper accepts the thesis that marriage decisions reflect rational behavior based on weighing benefits and costs. It develops a concept of a marriage price that measures the excess services one spouse provides to the other when there are differences in the number of men and women seeking marriage partners. This price includes income, time allocation to household activities, and control over forms of intimacy and beauty styles. In contrast to Grossbard-Shechtman's strict choice model, this model highlights the patriarchal privileges of husbands. It identifies some of the factors which affect marriage price in the United States and assesses the impact of recent U.S. governmental initiatives to increase marriage rates, including the male employment proposals made by William Julius Wilson. The theroretical model developed here shows that proposals that increase the personal value women place on marriage raise the marriage price they must pay, as well as increasing marriage rates.

JEL Classification: D81, D83

Suggested Citation

Cherry, Robert, Rational Choice and the Price of Marriage. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=100768

Robert Cherry (Contact Author)

CUNY Brooklyn College - Department of Economics ( email )

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