A husband used to bring home the bacon and the wife cooked it.
Or, as an economist might say, the traditional family has a market specialist and a domestic specialist. Rather like a factory, household output includes children, meals, and clean dishes.
Where are we going? To new kinds of marriage markets.
Contemporary couples no longer require market and domestic specialists. With day care, take-out and dishwashers, and both partners earning income and both (or none) cooking, we have a new economic unit. Consequently, marriages and domestic pairs are about companionship more than children. And instead of production complementarities, we have consumption complementarities.
Our Bottom Line: Marriage Markets
With marriage changing, so too has finding a mate. And that takes us to Nobel Laureate Alvin Roth’s study of non-money matching markets. Including kidney exchanges and physician residency programs, matching markets have lots of participants who need help forming pairs.
Because online dating resembles the markets he has studied, Dr. Roth expressed some advice in a recent WSJ article. As he explained, a non-money market needs to be “thick,” to avoid congestion and to have simple and safe rules. Composed of many participants, dating markets are “thick.” Congestion though can be a problem as when women receive too much spam. A congestion solution that also relates to safe rules is Tinder’s “super like” that users can send only once a day.
So, on Valentine’s Day, do keep in mind that dating is really all about consumption complementarities and markets.