Economic Theory

, Volume 67, Issue 2, pp 349–362 | Cite as

On the empirical content of the Beckerian marriage model

  • Jianfei Cao
  • Xiaoxia Shi
  • Matthew ShumEmail author
Research Article


This note studies the empirical content of a simple marriage matching model with transferable utility, based on Becker (J Polit Econ 81:813–846, 1973). Under Becker’s conditions, the equilibrium matching is unique and assortative. However, this note shows that when the researcher only observes a subset of relevant characteristics, the unique assortative matching does not uniquely determine a distribution of observed characteristics. This precludes standard approaches to point estimation of the underlying model parameters. We propose a solution to this problem, based on the idea of “random matching.”


Beckerian marriage model Assortative matching Indeterminacy Random matching 

JEL Classification

C51 C78 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Chicago Booth School of BusinessChicagoUSA
  2. 2.University of Wisconsin at MadisonWisconsinUSA
  3. 3.California Institute of TechnologyCaliforniaUSA

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