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Like Attract Like? A Structural Comparison of Homogamy Across Same-Sex and Different-Sex Households

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Document pages: 48 pages

Abstract: In this paper, we extend Gary Becker s empirical analysis of the marriage market to same-sex couples. Becker s theory rationalizes the well-known phenomenon of homogamy among different-sex couples: individuals mate with their likes because many characteristics, such as education, consumption behaviour, desire to nurture children, religion, etc., exhibit strong complementarities in the household production function. However, because of asymmetries in the distributions of male and female characteristics, men and women may need to marry up or down according to the relative shortage of their characteristics among the populations of men and women. Yet, among same-sex couples, this limitation does not exist as partners are drawn from the same population, and thus the theory of assortative mating would boldly predict that individuals will choose a partner with nearly identical characteristics. Empirical evidence suggests a very different picture: a robust stylized fact is that the correlation of the characteristics is in fact weaker among same-sex couples. In this paper, we build an equilibrium model of same-sex marriage market which allows for straightforward identification of the gains to marriage. We estimate the model with 2008-2012 ACS data on California and show that positive assortative mating is weaker for homosexuals than for heterosexuals with respect to age and race. Our results suggest that positive assortative mating with respect to education is stronger among lesbians, and not significantly different when comparing gay men and married different-sex couples. As regards labor market outcomes, such as hourly wages and working hours, we find some indications that the process of specialization within the household mainly applies to different-sex couples.

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