Trophy Wives and Boy Toys: Age Differences in Remarriage

Scott T Yabiku, Arizona State University

Age differences between spouses in remarriage have received relatively little research attention. These differences are important because women whose husbands are much older tend to have lower happiness and worse health outcomes. In addition, there is popular interest in the stereotypical beliefs of "trophy wives" and "boy toys." Drawing upon theories from marriage market dynamics, evolutionary psychology, and new home economics, I propose that the age of a spouse yields different levels of reproductive, status, sexual, and provider utilities. I hypothesize that age differences will be positively associated with earning power of both husbands and wives who seek remarriage. I test these hypotheses with data from the National Survey of Families and Households. Earnings explain variation in age differences for remarried men, but not remarried women. This evidence is consistent with social processes that lead men to take "trophy wives," but not for women who take "boy toys."

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Presented in Session 160: Marriage, Divorce and Remarriage: Gender Issues