Waiting for Mr. Right: Rising inequality and declining marriage rates

Eric D. Gould*, M. Daniele Paserman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

75 Scopus citations


This paper demonstrates that women search longer for their first or second husband in cities with higher male wage inequality, and examines several alternative explanations. A causal link is established by controlling for city fixed effects and city-specific time trends, and by using inequality in the woman's state-of-birth as a proxy for local male inequality. Increasing inequality explains about 25% of the marriage rate decline over the last few decades, and this is not due to the endogenous moving or labor force decisions of women, nor to the marital decisions of men in reaction to changes in their own wages.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)257-281
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Urban Economics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2003


  • Inequality
  • Marriage
  • Search


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