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Cohabitation vs Marriage: Mating Strategies by Education in the USA

Fabio Blasutto ()

No 2020023, Discussion Papers (IRES - Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales) from Université catholique de Louvain, Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales (IRES)

Abstract: Cohabiting without being married is a common practice in the United States, especially among noncollege-educated individuals. I provide a theoretical rationale for the different mating behaviors by education, building a life-cycle model of partnership formation in which cohabitation can be both an investment good, useful to learn about the quality of prospective marriage partners, and a consumption good, namely a cheap substitute to marriage. A structural estimation of this model suggests that the composition of labor market earnings accounts for the differential likelihood to cohabit and to marry of people with different education levels, by influencing their demand for commitment.

Keywords: Marriage; Cohabitation; Divorce; Heterogeneous Agents; Match Quality Models; Education; Structural Estimation (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D83 J12 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2020-07-23
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-dem
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