Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Working Paper Series,
Research Institute of Industrial Economics

No 728: Lady and the Trump: Status and Wealth in the Marriage Market

Johan Almenberg () and Anna Dreber ()
Additional contact information
Johan Almenberg: Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN), Postal: P.O. Box 55665, SE-102 15 Stockholm, Sweden
Anna Dreber: Stockholm School of Economics, Postal: P.O. Box 6501, SE-113 83 Stockholm, Sweden

Abstract: We examine a hitherto unexplored aspect of intergenerational transmission of economic standing, namely culturally determined status markers and their valuation in the marriage market. We take nobility to be such a status marker. We propose a two-trait extension of the optimal sorting model in Becker (1973). Using data on Swedish marriages we test the hypothesis that nobility have a greater probability of marrying up in terms of wealth. Our main finding is a sizeable and statistically significant positive effect for nobility. We use unique data on the evolution of nobility to make some predictions about the longevity of this institution.

Keywords: Marriage; Status; Intergenerational Transmission; Nobility

JEL-codes: D13; D20; J11; J12

28 pages, First version: January 15, 2008. Revised: July 10, 2008.

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