Friday, November 11, 2011

Is an Efficient Marriage Market Hypothesis Supportable?

By this I mean, is there a very strong correlation between the percentile rank of the groom's desirability with respect to the female population and the bride's desirability with respect to the man population.
By this, we'd expect 70th-80th percentile males to marry 70th-80th percentile females most of the time, with outliers being rare and noteworthy.

I'm inclined to think that the evidence for this is pretty strong, although I'll concede that measuring the bride's desirability with respect to the male population is amenable to much more rigor than the reciprocal.  In the vernacular that neurotypicals use, we say that the two are almost always 'in the same league', and refer to a partner as 'out of his or her league' if there's a serious mismatch---sometimes also---'what does she or he see in him or her'.

Clearly also we see substantially higher rates of divorce when one partner's effective desirability shifts significantly with respect to the other's.  The classic examples include a formerly fat wife losing a lot of weight and suddenly noticing that her market position has changed and a husband whose career really starts to take off and thereby gaining a large push in status looking at younger women.  It is also clear that as the number of potential marriage partners for the average marriage market participant increases, we should expect to see the market become more efficient over time, since that vastly increases the pool of people that each partner is ranked against.

We could reasonably model these circumstances as saying that each potential bride or groom has a certain amount of 'currency' in the marriage market with which to purchase their opposite number.  Oddly, one could reasonably expect this would apply in polygamous circumstances also, since the quality of mate willing to be a 2nd spouse will be lower on average than that willing to be a one and only.

It is this model that I'm going to attempt to develop in more detail with the aim of extending my remarks in 

The goal is to provide a useful framework for the non-neurotypical contemplating seeking a suitable partner for marriage, although I suspect it will have value to neurotypicals as well.

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