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Age-at-Marriage Patterns can emerge from individual mate-search heuristics

It is well known that the shape of the distribution of age at first marriage shows strong regularities across many countries and recent historical periods. We account for these patterns by developing agent-based models that simulate the aggregate behavior of individuals searching for marriage partners. Past models assumed fully rational agents with complete knowledge of the marriage market; our simulated agents use psychologically plausible simple heuristic search rules that adjust aspiration levels on the basis of a sequence of encounters with potential partners. Substantial individual variation must be included in the models to account for the demographically observed age-at-marriage patterns.