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Keywords:

  • gender;
  • marital search;
  • marriage markets;
  • Mexico, union formation

Although increasingly appreciated for their explanatory power in developed societies, marital search models have yet to be widely applied to developing nations. This article evaluates the applicability of marital search models to marriage timing in Mexico. The analysis compares separate models of union formation for men and women that include individual and marriage market predictors. Results show that union formation is closely linked to the uncertainties surrounding the transition to adulthood and the availability of marriageable partners. Improvements in women's economic position do not diminish the attractiveness of marriage, as female independence arguments would suggest. Instead, they are a central force behind the stability of marriage behavior in Mexico. A central transformation identified in the analysis is the reduction in sex differences in age at marriage as women expand their education and labor force participation.