DP3592 | Marrying Your Mom: Preference Transmission and Women's Labour and Education Choices

Publication Date


JEL Code(s)


Programme Area(s)



This Paper argues that the evolution of male preferences contributed to the dramatic increase in the proportion of working and educated women in the population over time. Male preferences evolved because some men experienced a different family model ? one in which their mother was skilled and/or worked. These men, we hypothesize, were more inclined to marry women who themselves were skilled or worked. Our model endogenizes the evolution of preferences in a dynamic setting and examines how it affected women?s education and labour choices. We present empirical evidence based on GSS data that favours our transmission mechanism. We show that men whose mothers were more educated or worked are more likely to marry similar women themselves.