Multisector matching with cognitive and social skills: a stylized model for education, work and marriage

Robert McCann
Mon, Sep 24, 2012
PIMS, University of British Columbia
PIMS/UBC Distinguished Lecture Series
Economists are interested in studying who matches with whom (and why) in the educational, labour, and marriage sectors. With Aloysius Siow, Xianwen Shi, and Ronald Wolthoff, we propose a toy model for this process, which is based on the assumption that production in any sector requires completion of two complementary tasks. Individuals are assumed to have both social and cognitive skills, which can be modified through education, and which determine what they choose to specialize in and with whom they choose to partner. Our model predicts variable, endogenous, many-to-one matching. Given a fixed initial distribution of characteristics, the steady state equilibrium of this model is the solution to an (infinite dimensional) linear program, for which we develop a duality theory which exhibits a phase transition depending on the number of students who can be mentored. If this number is two or more, then a continuous distributions of skills leads to formation of a pyramid in the education market with a few gurus having unbounded wage gradients. One preprint is on the arXiv; a sequel is in progress.