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How Do Sex Ratios Affect Marriage And Labor Markets? Evidence From America'S Second Generation

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  • Josh Angrist

Abstract

Sex ratios, i.e., relative numbers of men and women, can affect marriage prospects, labor force participation, and other social and economic variables. But the observed association between sex ratios and social and economic conditions may be confounded by omitted variables and reverse causality. This paper uses variation in immigrant flows as a natural experiment to study the effect of sex ratios on the children and grandchildren of immigrants. The flow of immigrants affected the second-generation marriage market because second-generation marriages were mostly endogamous, i.e., to members of the same ethnic group. The empirical results suggest that high sex ratios had a large positive effect on the likelihood of female marriage, and a large negative effect on female labor force participation. Perhaps surprisingly, the marriage rates of second-generation men appear to be a slightly increasing function of immigrant sex ratios. Higher sex ratios also appear to have raised male earnings and the incomes of parents with young children. The empirical results are broadly consistent with theories where higher sex ratios increase female bargaining power in the marriage market. "There's a shortage of men, so [the men] think, 'I can have more than one woman. I'm gonna go around to this one or that one, and I'm gonna have two or three of them." (A single Philadelphia mother describes her local marriage market; quoted in Edin [2000]). "Every day I meet someone better. I am waiting for the best." (A female Moroccan immigrant describes her local marriage market; quoted in Rodriguez [2000]). © 2001 the President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by MIT Press in its journal The Quarterly Journal of Economics.

Volume (Year): 117 (2002)
Issue (Month): 3 (August)
Pages: 997-1038

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Handle: RePEc:tpr:qjecon:v:117:y:2002:i:3:p:997-1038

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  1. Alan Freiden, 1974. "The United States Marriage Market," NBER Chapters, in: Marriage, Family, Human Capital, and Fertility, pages 34-56 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Rao, Vijayendra, 1993. "The Rising Price of Husbands: A Hedonic Analysis of Dowry Increases in Rural India," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(4), pages 666-77, August.
  3. Esther Duflo, 2003. "Grandmothers and Granddaughters: Old-Age Pensions and Intrahousehold Allocation in South Africa," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 17(1), pages 1-25, June.
  4. Walter F. Willcox, 1931. "Immigration into the United States," NBER Chapters, in: International Migrations, Volume II: Interpretations, pages 83-122 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Josh Angrist, 2000. "Consequences of Imbalanced Sex Ratios: Evidence from America's Second Generation," NBER Working Papers 8042, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Moulton, Brent R., 1986. "Random group effects and the precision of regression estimates," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 32(3), pages 385-397, August.
  7. Freiden, Alan, 1974. "The United States Marriage Market," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(2), pages S34-S53, Part II, .
  8. Chiappori, Pierre-André & Fortin, Bernard & Lacroix, Guy, 2001. "Marriage Market, Divorce Legislation and Household Labor Supply," Cahiers de recherche 0103, Université Laval - Département d'économique.
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  10. Chiswick, Barry R, 1977. "Sons of Immigrants: Are They at an Earnings Disadvantage?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 67(1), pages 376-80, February.
  11. Robert Schoen, 1983. "Measuring the tightness of a marriage squeeze," Demography, Springer, vol. 20(1), pages 61-78, February.
  12. Grossbard-Shechtman, Shoshana Amyra, 1984. "A Theory of Allocation of Time in Markets for Labour and Marriage," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 94(376), pages 863-82, December.
  13. Becker, Gary S, 1973. "A Theory of Marriage: Part I," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 81(4), pages 813-46, July-Aug..
  14. Berman, Eli, 1997. "Help Wanted, Job Needed: Estimates of a Matching Function from Employment Service Data," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 15(1), pages S251-92, January.
  15. Michael R. Haines, 1996. "Long Term Marriage Patterns in the United States from Colonial Times tothe Present," NBER Historical Working Papers 0080, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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