Explaining the flight of cupid's arrow: a spatial random utility model of partner choice

K. Haandrikman, L.J.G. van Wissen

Research output: Contribution to journal/periodicalArticleScientificpeer-review

Abstract

Spatial homogamy may be defined as follows: anyone may be attracted to anyone else, but near candidates are more attractive than distant candidates. In this article, we propose a model of partner choice, where homogamy is defined in terms of spatial, demographic, socioeconomic and cultural similarity. A spatial choice model using random utility theory is formulated, taking into account a relaxation of the independence from the irrelevant alternatives property, as spatial alternatives are not independent of one another. We model partner choice given the characteristics of the chosen partner and a choice set of alternatives, using unique micro data on all new cohabiters in the Netherlands, linked to other relevant data sets. The model takes the spatial locations of potential candidates within a choice set into account, including an indicator for the spatial similarity between alternatives.We find that spatial homogamy is a vital component of partner matching, aside from and adding to the spatial effects in demographic, socioeconomic and cultural homogamy. Given a choice set of partners, the highest likelihood of a match occurs with a person who is born and lives near by, who is close in age, is in the same life stage and has the same marital status, who has the same educational and income level and the same labour market status, who speaks the same dialect and lives in a culturally similar residential area. The distance effect is most pronounced for those individuals with lower levels of education and those living in rural areas. keywords: spatial choice; spatial homogamy; random utility; register data; The Netherlands
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)417-439
JournalEuropean Journal of Population - Revue Européenne de Population
Volume28
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2012

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