Arranged Marriages under Transferable Utilities

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Working paper
Pauline Morault
Issue number: 
AMSE Working Papers
GREQAM - Aix-Marseille University
In many societies, marriage is a decision taken at the familial level. Arranged marriages are documented from Renaissance Europe to contemporary rural Kenya, and are still prevalent in many parts of the developing world. However, this family dimension has essentially been neglected by the existing matching literature on marriages. The objective of this paper is to introduce family considerations into the assignment game. We explore how shifting decision-making to the family level affects matching on the marriage market. We introduce a new concept of familial stability and find that it is weaker than individual stability. The introduction of families into the marriage market generates coordination problems, so the central result of the transferable utility framework no longer holds: a matching can be family-stable even if it does not maximize the sum of total marital surpluses. Interestingly, even when the stable matching is efficient, family decision-making drastically modifies how the surplus is shared-out. These results may have fundamental implications for pre-marital investments. We find that stable matchings depend on the type of family partitioning. Notably, when each family contains one son and one daughter, familial and individual stability are equivalent.
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