, Volume 39, Issue 3, pp 435-453

An empirical analysis of the matching patterns of same-sex and opposite-sex couples

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We used 1990 Census data to compare the matching behaviors of four types of cohabiting couples: same-sex male couples, same-sex female couples, opposite-sex unmarried couples, and married couples. In general, we found evidence of positive assortative mating for all traits and across all types of couples. The positive assortative mating, however, is stronger for non-labor-market traits (e.g., age, education) than for labor-market traits (e.g., hourly earnings). Further, members of married couples are more alike with respect to most characteristics than are members of opposite-sex cohabiting couples, and members of opposite-sex cohabiting couples are more alike than are members of same-sex couples.

The authors would like to thank Kathryn Anderson, Rebecca Blank, J.S. Butler, Greg Duncan, David Hakes, Gary Jensen, Robert Margo, Ken McCormick, Mark Montgomery, Jennifer Reinganum, Janet Rives, Dan Rosenbaum, Seth Sanders, John Siegfried, Don Williams, two anonymous referees, and seminar participants at the 1998 and 1999 Midwest Economics Association meetings for helpful comments. All remaining mistakes are the sole responsibility of the authors. The views presented in this paper are those of the authors alone and are not necessarily those of the Public Policy Institute of California.