IZA DP No. 4875: The Economic Value of Virtue
published in: Journal of Economic Growth, 2012, 17 (4), 323-356
Virtue is modeled as an asset that women can use in the marriage market: since men value virginity in prospective mates, preserving her virtue increases a woman's chances of marrying a high-status husband, and therefore allows for upward social mobility. Consistent with some historical and anthropological evidence, we find that the prevalence (and the value) of virginity, across societies and over time, can be influenced by socio-economic factors such as male income inequality, gender differences, social status and stratification, and overall economic development.