How Do Sex Ratios Affect Marriage And Labor Markets? Evidence From America'S Second Generation
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 ). "Every day I meet someone better. I am waiting for the best." (A female Moroccan immigrant describes her local marriage market; quoted in Rodriguez ). © 2001 the President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Volume (Year): 117 (2002)
Issue (Month): 3 (August)
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