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Marrying Up: The Tradeoff between Spousal Income and Spousal Height

Time:2017-02-23 11:01:21  Hits:[]

Couple’s heights tend to match. However, whether such matching is for the sake of height or the many desirable traits associated with stature (e.g., income) is unclear. We contribute to this literature by randomly assigning heights and incomes to 360 unique artificial profiles on a major online dating website in China. We then recorded nearly 800 “visits”—clicks on abbreviated profiles, which include height and income information, from search engine results. Supporting the preference basis for assortative matching on height, taller men preferred taller women. Men were indifferent to women’s incomes, but women preferred higher income men. Surprisingly, instead of finding that women also have assertive preference for mate height, we find that women's willingness to trade mate height for mate income (marginal rate of substitution--MRS for height) form a U-shaped frontier on their own heights. For short and medium men, a small increase in height makes them much more attractive to short women, a moderate difference for medium, and a negligible difference for tall women. However, for tall men, we find the reverse ranking of MRSs among women. We confirm these finding with CFPS survey data of married couples using Chiappori et al.’s (2012) method for multidimensional matching, which we extend to heterogeneity across women of different heights by applying Vella (1993). The MRS of short wives is significantly higher than medium, but not significantly higher than tall. Short early mothers drive the difference. Only the earliness of their marriages and childbirth increase on husband’s height. Our evidence suggests that short women are matching non-assortatively, and that, to increase the height of their children.
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