DP8605 Multi-Trait Matching and Intergenerational Mobility: A Cinderella Story

Author(s): Natalie Chen, Paola Conconi, Carlo Perroni
Publication Date: October 2011
Keyword(s): Gender Earnings Gap, Inheritance, Matching, Social Mobility
JEL(s): C78, D13, J31
Programme Areas: Labour Economics, Public Economics
Link to this Page: www.cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=8605

Empirical studies of intergenerational social mobility have found that women are more mobile than men. To explain this finding, we describe a model of multi-trait matching and inheritance, in which individuals’ attractiveness in the marriage market depends on their market and non-market characteristics. We show that the observed gender differences in social mobility can arise if market characteristics are relatively more important in determining marriage outcomes for men than for women and are more persistent across generations than non-market characteristics. Paradoxically, the female advantage in social mobility may be due to their adverse treatment in the labor market. A reduction in gender discrimination in the labor market leads to an increase in homogamy in the marriage market, lowering social mobility for both genders.