Marriage, Cohabitation and Commitment

47 Pages Posted: 18 Aug 2009

See all articles by Murat Iyigun

Murat Iyigun

University of Colorado at Boulder - Department of Economics; Harvard University - Center for International Development (CID); IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Abstract

This paper combines partner matching with an intra-household allocation model where couples decide if they want to marry or cohabitate. Marriage encourages but does not ensure a higher level of spousal commitment, which in turn can generate a larger marital surplus. Individuals' marital preferences and commitment costs vary, and sorting equilibria are based on individuals' marital preferences and propensity to commit. In all equilibria, some married couples are able to cooperate and operate efficiently, but some married and all cohabiting couples act with limited commitment and non-cooperatively. When spousal marital commitment costs are gender symmetric, there is a pure-sorting equilibrium in which all partners who prefer to act with commitment in marriage are matched with someone who has the same preference. In such an equilibrium, the benefits of marital commitment accrue to both partners. When commitment costs are not gender neutral, there can also be mixed-matching equilibria in which a partner who is willing to act with commitment in marriage is matched with someone who is not. In all such equilibria, the benefits of marital commitment accrue only to those men or women who are in short supply. Consequently, a shortage of men (women) who can maritally commit makes all women (men) worse off and materially indifferent between marriage or cohabitation. An excess supply of men who prefer marriage not only reduces the marriage incentives of men and raises those of women, but also the marital commitment incentives of men. As a corollary, if the gains from marriage fall, not only will more individuals choose to cohabitate but more married couples will act non-cooperatively.

Keywords: collective model, intra-household bargaining, modes of partnership choice

JEL Classification: C78, D61, D70

Suggested Citation

Iyigun, Murat F., Marriage, Cohabitation and Commitment. IZA Discussion Paper No. 4341, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1455503

Murat F. Iyigun (Contact Author)

University of Colorado at Boulder - Department of Economics ( email )

Campus Box 256
Boulder, CO 80309
United States
303-492-6653 (Phone)
303-492-8622 (Fax)

Harvard University - Center for International Development (CID) ( email )

One Eliot Street Building
79 JFK Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Here is the Coronavirus
related research on SSRN

Paper statistics

Downloads
107
Abstract Views
799
rank
284,031
PlumX Metrics