Optimizing the marriage market: an application of the linear assignment model

N V Cao, Emmanuel Fragniere, J A Gauthier, M Sapin, E D Widmer

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11 Citations (SciVal)


Research shows that the success of marriages and other intimate partnerships depends on objective attributes such as differences in age, cultural background, and educational level. This article proposes a mathematical approach to optimizing marriage by allocating spouses in such a way as to reduce the likelihood of divorce or separation. To produce our optimization model, we use the assumption of a central "agency" that would coordinate the matching of couples. Based on a representative and longitudinal sample of 1074 cohabiting and married couples living in Switzerland, we estimate various objective functions corresponding to age, education, ethnicity, and prior divorce concerning every possible combination of men and women. Our results show that the current state of marriages or partnerships is well below the social Optimum. We reallocate approximately 68% of individuals (7 out of 10) to a new couple that we posit has a higher likelihood of survival. From this selection of new partners, we obtain our final "optimal" solutions, with a 21% reduction in the objective function. (C) 2009 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)547-553
Number of pages7
JournalEuropean Journal of Operational Research
Issue number2
Early online date17 Jun 2009
Publication statusPublished - 16 Apr 2010


  • Sustainability
  • couples matching
  • Divorce
  • Linear assignment model
  • Marriage market
  • societal problem analysis


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