Assortative Matching at the Top of the Distribution: Evidence from the World's Most Exclusive Marriage Market
- American Economic Journal: Applied Economics (Forthcoming)
Using novel data on peerage marriages in Britain, I find that low
search costs and marriage-market segregation can generate sorting.
Peers courted in the London Season, a matching technology introducing aristocratic bachelors to debutantes. When Queen Victoria
went into mourning for her husband, the Season was interrupted
(1861–63), raising search costs, and reducing market segregation.
I exploit exogenous variation in women's probability to marry during the interruption from their age in 1861. The interruption increased peer-commoner intermarriage by 40% and reduced sorting
along landed wealth by 30%. Eventually, this reduced peers' political power and affected public policy in late-19C England.
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