Desperation or Desire? The Role of Risk Aversion in Marriage

18 Pages Posted: 29 Mar 2010

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Because of the uncertainty inherent in searching for a spouse and the uncertainty of the future quality and state of the marriage itself, risk attitudes likely directly impact the timing of marriage. The effect of an individual’s risk aversion, measured via a series of hypothetical gambles over income on time to marriage, is examined using survival analysis. I find risk aversion significantly affects time to marriage, with more risk averse respondents marrying sooner than their more risk-loving counterparts. Within-family analyses using sibling data reveal a similar pattern. In addition, the effect of risk aversion on time to marriage is larger in magnitude and more statistically significant for men. One possible explanation for the different results between the sexes is that women value risk aversion as a desirable trait in potential mates.

JEL Classification: J10, J11, J12, J16

Suggested Citation

Spivey, Christy, Desperation or Desire? The Role of Risk Aversion in Marriage. Economic Inquiry, Vol. 48, Issue 2, pp. 499-516, April 2010, Available at SSRN: or

Christy Spivey (Contact Author)

SIUE ( email )

Edwardsville, IL 62026-1102
United States

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