DP10403 | Partner Choice and the Marital College Premium: Analyzing Marital Patterns Over Several Decades

Publication Date


JEL Code(s)


Programme Area(s)



We construct a structural model of household decision-making and matching and estimate the returns to schooling within marriage. We consider agents with idiosyn- cratic preferences for marriage that may be correlated with education, and we allow the education levels of spouses to interact in producing joint surplus. Using US data on marriages of individuals born between 1943 and 1972, we show that the preference for assortative matching by education has significantly increased for the white population, particularly for highly educated individuals; but not for blacks. Moreover, in line with theoretical predictions, we find that the ?marital college-plus premium? has increased for women but not for men.