The Gendered Double Standard of Aging in Middle and Older Age Marriage Markets

Paula S. England, Stanford University
Elizabeth McClintock, Stanford University

We argue that men choose female marital partners in part by beauty, that the standard of beauty favors young women, and thus, that the older men are when they marry, the more they find women their own age unattractive and prefer to marry younger women. We test hypotheses using the June CPS fertility supplement and the PSID. We show that 1) the older men are when they marry, the more years they marry down, 2) the hazard of marriage goes down more rapidly with age for women than men after age 40, 3) the ratio of single women to single men goes up with age (more than dictated by differential mortality). We also examine whether middle- and older-age men with more education and higher earnings are more able to marry down in age than less advantaged men.

  See extended abstract

Presented in Session 18: Demography with a Gender Lens