2021 (18), №3

Equilibrium of Invisible Hand in the Family: the Gravitation between Men and Women in Marriage Markets

For citation: 

Malakhov, S. V. (2021). Equilibrium of Invisible Hand in the Family: the Gravitation between Men and Women in Marriage Markets. Zhurnal Еkonomicheskoj Тeorii [Russian Journal of Economic Theory], 18(3), 357-373. https://doi.org/10.31063/2073-6517/2021.18-3.3.


The proof of the Invisible hand describes the inner market mechanism, which leads the producer to the meeting point with the uninformed consumer, where the price and the meeting time provide the maximization of the output on the consumption-leisure production possibility frontier and unintentionally maximize the buyer’s consumption-leisure utility. This mechanism also works in marriage markets where the Invisible hand corrects the misleading information. The paper confirms G. S. Becker’s assumption that more beautiful, charming, and talented women tend to marry wealthier and more successful men but refutes his conclusion that such marriage maximizes the aggregate output. The high male productivity really attracts women because it produces a strong male gravitation field. But the marriage of a very productive man to a beautiful woman fails because it represents for a beautiful woman a corner solution. The man’s wealth, accumulated before the marriage, as well the bride price reinforces this disequilibrium. A dowry can also result in a disequilibrium because it gives time for a man to look for another partner. The paper argues that the quality of men is determined not by their productivity as such but by the trade-off between the productivity and their ability to provide household services on the family consumption-leisure production possibility frontier. The quality of women is determined by the trade-off between household activity and efforts to support her natural female attractiveness. The invisible hand equilibrium represents something close to the mating of unlikes but with some peculiarities. The woman’s ability to provide household services substitutes the man’s household activity but it complements his gender-related quality of productivity. A housewife raises the productivity of her husband; she increases his attractiveness and reinforces his gravitation field at the expense of her own attractiveness and her gravitation field but only this way she maximizes her consumption-leisure utility. Polygamy also represents the invisible hand equilibrium but in this case the equal distribution of wealth between wives is followed by unequal distribution of household activities when some wives spend less time in the kitchen but more leisure time with the husband because they are more attractive. In monogamy, the woman’s strong gravitation field produces the phenomenon of the ‘tragedy of a femme fatale’. Her alliance with a wealthy man comes to the corner solution; she needs more attention of her husband but with that she decreases his gravitational field, and he becomes less interesting to her. The loss of male attractiveness results in the short time horizon of the equilibrium determined by the invisible hand.

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Sergey V. Malakhov — Doctor of Economics, Pierre Mendès-France University; https://orcid.org/0000–0002–4805–0635 (Pierre Mendès-France University, Grénoble-Alpes, France; e-mail: serguei.malakhov@orange.fr).

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