Transplants and implants: The economics of self-improvement

Ken Burdett, Melvyn G. Coles

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article examines equilibrium self-improvement and marriage proposal strategies in a two-sided search model with nontransferable utility. Singles are vertically differentiated - some make better marriage partners than others. A complete characterization of equilibrium is provided. It is shown there are two externalities to self-improvement decisions. Further, these externalities may support multiple Pareto rankable equilibria. By encouraging everybody to self-improve, society can create a situation where everybody is forced to improve to remain "acceptable." But a preferred equilibrium may exist where there is less (costly) self-improvement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)597-616
Number of pages20
JournalInternational Economic Review
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics and Econometrics


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