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The Sex Ratio and the Out-of-Wedlock Birth Rate in the United States during World War II


  • Robert E. McCormick
  • Melissa M. Yeoh
  • Mason S. Gerety


This paper provides a theoretical economic framework to study the effects of changes in the sex ratio on the out-of-wedlock birth rate in the United States. We model the demanders and suppliers of sexual relations as potential mates and the relative ¡°price¡± of human sexual relations as the promises implicit within a traditional marriage (marriage, fidelity, wealth transfers, child support, etc.). We examine an instrument for the implicit ¡°price¡± of sexual relations, namely the out-of-wedlock birth rate. We show that the reduction in the number of available sex partners for women during World War II decreased the ¡°price¡±¡ªin terms of marriage¡ªthat remaining men had to pay for sex. One result of this lower ¡°price¡± is an increase in the number of children born out-of-wedlock during the war. According to our regression results, a reduction in the sex ratio of 10 males per 100 females in the U.S. population during World War II increased the out-of wedlock birth rate by six to ten percent.

Suggested Citation

  • Robert E. McCormick & Melissa M. Yeoh & Mason S. Gerety, 2013. "The Sex Ratio and the Out-of-Wedlock Birth Rate in the United States during World War II," International Journal of Social Science Studies, Redfame publishing, vol. 1(2), pages 242-248, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:rfa:journl:v:1:y:2013:i:2:p:242-248

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    sex ratio; out-of-wedlock births; marriage; fertility;

    JEL classification:

    • R00 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General - - - General
    • Z0 - Other Special Topics - - General


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