Males’ housing wealth and their marriage market advantage


In theory, people who own real estate should have advantage finding a partner in the marriage market. Empirical analyses along this line, however, face three issues. First, it is difficult to identify any causality for whether housing facilitates marriage or expected marriage facilitates a housing purchase. Second, survey samples usually do not cover very wealthy people, and so the observations are top coding in the wealth dimension. Third, getting married is a dynamic life cycle decision, and rich life-history data are rarely available. This paper uses registry data from Taiwan to estimate the impact of males’ housing wealth on their first-marriage duration, taking into account all three issues mentioned above. We find that a 10% increase in real estate wealth increases probability of a man getting married in any particular year by 3.92%. Our finding suggests that housing or real estate is a status good in the marriage market.

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  1. 1.

    See, for instance, Frank (2007), Grier et al. (2016), Marsh (2011), and Wei et al. (2017). Indeed, spending on status goods is growing in China after the share of males of the total population hit 57% around 2000.

  2. 2.


  3. 3.


  4. 4.

    We use the last closing price before July 31 if July 31 is on a weekend.

  5. 5.


  6. 6.


  7. 7.

    There are some errors in parents’ age in family records. If the difference between father/mother’s age and children’s age falls outside of [15, 60], then it is considered as a data error and thus dropped from the observations. Such errors account for about 0.6% of the sample.

  8. 8.

    The results in Tables 5 and 6 are estimated with the Stata code provided by Wrenn et al. (2017).

  9. 9.


  10. 10.

    We interact the five instruments in Table 6 with his brother’s real estate.


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We thank Ruoh-Rong Yu and Hao-Chun Cheng for their participation in the early stage of this project. We also thank Chien-Yu Chen and Chun-Hung Tsang for the research assistance. We are grateful for the valuable comments of two anonymous referees and the suggestions of the Editor and Co-Managing Editor of the Journal of Population Economics. An earlier version of this paper was presented at Oxford University, Paris School of Economics, and Academia Sinica, where useful comments and suggestions by John Ermisch, Thomas Piketty, and many seminar participants were greatly appreciated.

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Correspondence to Wen-Jen Tsay.

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Chu, C.Y.C., Lin, J. & Tsay, W. Males’ housing wealth and their marriage market advantage. J Popul Econ (2020).

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  • Marriage formation
  • Housing wealth
  • Status good
  • Duration model

JEL Classification

  • C25
  • J12
  • R21