Population-Wide Marriage Patterns Produced by Individual Mate-Search Heuristics

  • Peter M. Todd
  • Francesco C. Billari
Part of the Contributions to Economics book series (CE)


The psychological problem of uncovering the mechanisms by which people select mates or marriage partners and the demographic problem of understanding the emergence of population-level patterns of marriage can be brought together to illuminate each other. In this paper we combine a top-down demographic approach with a bottom-up psychological approach to study marriage and mate search via agent-based simulations. We model a group of agents searching for mates using individual aspiration-based satisficing heuristics, which are simple, psychologically plausible mechanisms suggested by the framework of bounded rationality. By comparing the resulting population-level patterns with the general features of demographically observed age-at-marriage distributions, we find that the psychological mechanisms must be refined to account for the empirical data. In particular, we show the importance of heterogeneity across individuals for producing realistic marriage times.


Hazard Rate Hazard Function Mate Choice Potential Partner Aspiration Level 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter M. Todd
    • 1
  • Francesco C. Billari
    • 2
  1. 1.Center for Adaptive Behavior and CognitionMax Planck Institute for Human DevelopmentBerlinGermany
  2. 2.Institute of Quantitative MethodsBocconi UniversityMilanoItaly

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