Get access

ON THE EMERGENCE OF TOYBOYS: THE TIMING OF MARRIAGE WITH AGING AND UNCERTAIN CAREERS

Authors

  • Melvyn G. Coles,

    1. University of Essex, U.K.
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Marco Francesconi

    1. University of Essex, U.K.
    Search for more papers by this author
    • We are grateful for the permission of the Office for National Statistics to use the Longitudinal Study data and for the support provided by Chris Marshall and Jo Tomlinson from the Centre for Longitudinal Study Information and User Support (CeLSIUS). We thank three anonymous referees, the Editor (Jan Eeckhout), Jim Albrecht, V. Bhaskar, Larry Bumpass, Ken Burdett, John Knowles, Abhinay Muthoo, Motty Perry, Robert Pollak, Sergei Severinov, Aloysius Siow, Linda Wong, Randy Wright, and seminar participants at the 2007 ESPE Conference (Chicago), Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona, University of Belfast, University of Cagliari, University of Essex, University of Leicester, London School of Economics, University of Milan, and University of Pennsylvania for comments and suggestions. Please address correspondence to: Marco Francesconi, Department of Economics, University of Essex, Colchester CO4 3SQ, U.K. E-mail: mfranc@essex.ac.uk.


  • Manuscript received October 2008; revised April 2010.

Abstract

We explore how gender bias in career opportunities affects matching in a marriage market with search frictions and where an individual’s fitness decays with age. We document a “being left on the shelf” effect where young singles, who find the marriage market rapidly thins with age, rush into early partnership. Singles with stronger career opportunities, however, have a greater option value to defer marriage. More equal career opportunities for women (captured by greater schooling and better occupations) potentially explain the recent emergence of toyboy unions, in which the woman is at least 5 years older than her partner.

Ancillary