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|Title: ||Three essays on the economic theory of mating and parental choice|
|Authors: ||Antrup, Andreas Hermann|
|Supervisor(s): ||Hopkins, Ed|
|Issue Date: ||26-Jun-2012|
|Publisher: ||The University of Edinburgh|
|Abstract: ||Chapter 1: Relative Concerns and the Choice of Fertility
Empirical research has shown that people exhibit relative concerns, they
value social status. If they value their children's status as well, what effect will
that have on their decisions as parents?
This paper argues that parents and potential parents are in competition for status
and rank in the generation of their children; as a consequence richer agents
may cut back on the number of children they have and invest more in each child
to prevent children of lower income agents from mimicking their own children.
This effect need not be uniform so that equilibrium fertility may e.g. be a U-shaped
function of income, even when agents would privately like to increase
fertility when they receive greater income.
These findings have wide ramifications: they may contribute to our understanding
of the working of the demographic transition; they also suggest that the low
fertility traps seen in some developed countries are rather strongly entrenched
phenomena; and they o er a new explanation for voluntary childlessness.
Chapter 2: Relative Concerns and Primogeniture
While pervasive in the past, differential treatment of children, i.e. different
levels of attention and parental investments into children of the same parent,
has become rare in modern societies. This paper offers an explanation based on
technological change which has rendered the success of a child more uncertain
for a parent who is deciding on how much to invest into each of his children.
Within a framework of concerns for social status (or relative concerns), agents
decide on how many children to have and how much to invest in each child.
When their altruism towards each child is decreasing in the total number of children,
it is shown that they may solve the trade-off between low investment, high
marginal return children (that come in large numbers and hence hurt parental
altruism) and high investment, low marginal return children (that come in low
numbers) by demanding both types and hence practice differential treatment.
Uncertainty over status or rank outcomes of children reduces the range of equilibrium investment levels intro children so that the difference in the numbers
they come in is reduced. Eventually the concern for return dominates and differential
Chapter 3: Co-Evolution of Institutions and Preferences: the
case of the (human) mating market
This paper explores the institutions that may emerge in response to mating
preferences being constrained in their complexity in that they can only be conditioned
on gender not other characteristics of the carrier of the preferences. When
the cognitive capacity of the species allows a sophisticated institutional setup of
one gender proposing and the other accepting or rejecting to be adopted, this
setup is shown to be able to structure the mating allocation process such that
preferences evolve to forms that, conditional on the setup, are optimal despite
the constraint on complexity. Nature can be thought of as delegating information
processing to the institutional setup.
In an application to humans it is shown that the mechanism of the model can
help explain why men and women may exhibit opposed preferences in traits
such as looks and cleverness. The anecdotal fact that women do not marry
down while men do can be interpreted as a maladaptation of female preferences
to modern marriage markets.|
|Sponsor(s): ||Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)|
|Keywords: ||mate choice|
|Appears in Collections:||Economics thesis and dissertation collection|
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