College as a Marriage Market

46 Pages Posted: 10 Apr 2021

See all articles by Lars J. Kirkebøen

Lars J. Kirkebøen

Statistics Norway - Research Department

Edwin Leuven

University of Amsterdam - Faculty of Economics and Business (FEB); IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Magne Mogstad

University of Chicago

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Recent descriptive work suggests the type of college education (field or institution) is an important but neglected pathway through which individuals sort into homogeneous marriages. These descriptive studies raise the question of why college graduates are so likely to marry someone within their own institution or field of study. One possible explanation is that individuals match on traits correlated with the choice of education, such as innate ability, tastes or family environment. Another possible explanation is that the choice of college education causally impacts whether and whom one marries, either because of search frictions or preferences for spousal education. The goal of this paper is to sort out these explanations and, by doing so, examine the role of colleges as marriage markets. Using data from Norway to address key identification and measurement challenges, we find that colleges are local marriage markets, mattering greatly for whom one marries, not because of the pre-determined traits of the admitted students but as a direct result of attending a particular institution at a given time.

JEL Classification: D13, I23, I24, J12

Suggested Citation

Kirkebøen, Lars J. and Leuven, Edwin and Mogstad, Magne, College as a Marriage Market. IZA Discussion Paper No. 14264, Available at SSRN: or

Lars J. Kirkebøen (Contact Author)

Statistics Norway - Research Department ( email )

Kongens Gt. 6
PO Box 8131 Dep
N-0033 Oslo

Edwin Leuven

University of Amsterdam - Faculty of Economics and Business (FEB) ( email )

Roetersstraat 11
Amsterdam, 1018 WB
+31 20 525 5241 (Phone)
+31 20 525 4310 (Fax)

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Schaumburg-Lippe-Str. 7 / 9
Bonn, D-53072

Magne Mogstad

University of Chicago ( email )

1101 East 58th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

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