Journal of Population Economics

, Volume 30, Issue 1, pp 163–186 | Cite as

Old money, the nouveaux riches and Brunhilde’s marriage strategy

  • Anne-Kathrin Bronsert
  • Amihai Glazer
  • Kai A. Konrad
Original Paper


In a courtship game, wasteful conspicuous spending may provide information about some components of a suitor’s income. But conspicuous spending may be costly not only for the potential husband but also for the woman: it reduces the wealth of the man she may marry. In the optimal contractual arrangement, the bride’s cost moderates the threshold value of the conspicuous spending that she requires for marriage. We also find that a sound observable financial background (‘old money’) benefits both the suitor and the woman, and reduces wasteful spending on status goods. Furthermore, we analyze how a change in the intensity with which the suitor seeks the woman may affect the equilibrium pattern of conspicuous spending.


Marriage Courtship game Conspicuous consumption Status 

JEL Classification

J12 D82 



We thank Daniel S. Hamermesh, Marco Pagano, Fangfang Tan, participants at the CSEF seminar in Naples, and participants at the Family Economics Workshop at Royal Holloway University in London for helpful comments. We also thank Yue Yu for research assistance. The editor and reviewers gave much useful advice. Of course, the usual caveat applies.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest:

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


Amihai Glazer and Kai A. Konrad declare that they received no funding for this study. Anne- Kathrin Bronsert received a scholarship from the Max Planck Society for doing her Ph.D. at the Max Planck Institute for Tax Law and Public Finance.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Anne-Kathrin Bronsert
    • 1
  • Amihai Glazer
    • 2
  • Kai A. Konrad
    • 1
  1. 1.Max Planck Institute for Tax Law and Public FinanceMunichGermany
  2. 2.Department of EconomicsUniversity of California, IrvineIrvineUSA

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