Maximizing Status or Homophily? How Individuals Choose among Socially Distant Partners under Varying Marriage Market Conditions

Audrey N. Beck, Duke University

Social distance, a measure of how “close” individuals prefer to be to others with dissimilar characteristics, is often used to highlight salient social boundaries. Few studies have examined the context of socially distant marriages, or how women make tradeoffs in mate characteristics when marrying such partners. This paper determines how attraction varies as a function of partner characteristics under conditions of male scarcity and surplus. I examine whether individuals attempt to maximize status, maximize homophily, or exchange status. Schoen’s harmonic mean is used to determine the magnitude of mutual attraction independent of the population composition. This analysis uses multivariate linear regression as well as MSA level fixed effects. Preliminary findings indicate that white marriages are more responsive to the sex ratio context.

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Presented in Session 23: Union Formation