Discussion paper

DP13606 The Economics of Hypergamy

Partner selection is a vital feature of human behavior with important consequences for indi-viduals, families, and society. Hypergamy occurs when a husband’s earning capacity system-atically exceeds that of his wife. We provide a theoretical framework that rationalizes hy-pergamy even in the absence of gender differences in the distribution of earnings capacity. Using parental earnings rank, a predetermined measure of earnings capacity that solves the simultaneity problem of matching affecting earnings outcomes, we show that hypergamy is an important feature of Norwegian mating patterns. A vignette experiment identifies gender differences in preferences that can explain the observed patterns.


Almås, I, A Kotsadam, E Moen and K Røed (2019), ‘DP13606 The Economics of Hypergamy‘, CEPR Discussion Paper No. 13606. CEPR Press, Paris & London. https://cepr.org/publications/dp13606