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Large Demographic Shocks and Small Changes in the Marriage Market

  • Loren Brandt
  • Aloysius Siow
  • Carl Vogel

Between 1958 and 1961, China experienced one of the worse famines in her history. Birth rates fell during these years and recovered immediately afterwards. The famine also adversely affected the health of these cohorts. This paper provides nonparametric estimates of the total effects of the famine on the marital behaviour of famine-affected cohorts in the rural areas of Sichuan and Anhui. These reduced from estimates incorporate general equilibrium and heterogeneous treatment effects, two important components of equilibrium marital behaviour. Next, the paper uses a structural model of the marriage market, the Choo-Siow model, to decompose observed marital outcomes into quantity and quality effects of the famine. The structural estimates show that the famine substantially reduced the marital attractiveness of the famine born cohort. The conclusion is that the small observed changes in marriage rates of the famine born cohorts are due to a substantial decline in their marital attractiveness. Controlling for changes in educational attainment does not change the conclusion.

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File URL: https://www.cbe.anu.edu.au/researchpapers/cepr/DP615.pdf
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Paper provided by Centre for Economic Policy Research, Research School of Economics, Australian National University in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 615.

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Date of creation: Jul 2009
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Handle: RePEc:auu:dpaper:615
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  1. Wooldridge, Jeffrey M. & Imbens, Guido, 2009. "Recent Developments in the Econometrics of Program Evaluation," Scholarly Articles 3043416, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  2. Shannon Seitz & Aloysius Siow & Eugene Choo, 2009. "Marriage matching, risk sharing and spousal labor supplies," 2009 Meeting Papers 16, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  3. Wei Li & Dennis Tao Yang, 2005. "The Great Leap Forward: Anatomy of a Central Planning Disaster," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 113(4), pages 840-877, August.
  4. Meng, Xin & Qian, Nancy, 2006. "The Long Run Health and Economic Consequences of Famine on Survivors: Evidence from China's Great Famine," CEPR Discussion Papers 5989, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  5. Justin Yifu Lin & Yang, Dennis, 1995. "Food Availability, Entitlement and the Chinese Famine of 1959-61," Working Papers 95-24, Duke University, Department of Economics.
  6. Douglas Almond & Lena Edlund & Hongbin Li & Junsen Zhang, 2007. "Long-Term Effects Of The 1959-1961 China Famine: Mainland China and Hong Kong," NBER Working Papers 13384, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Bergstrom, T. & Lam, D., 1989. "The Effects of Cohort Size on Mariage Market in Twentieth Century Sweden," Papers 91-6, Michigan - Center for Research on Economic & Social Theory.
  8. Chen, Yuyu & Zhou, Li-An, 2007. "The long-term health and economic consequences of the 1959-1961 famine in China," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 26(4), pages 659-681, July.
  9. James Heckman & Lance Lockner & Christopher Taber, 1999. "Human capital formation and general equilibrium treatment effects: a study of tax and tuition policy," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 20(1), pages 25-40, March.
  10. Eugene Choo & Aloysius Siow, 2006. "Who Marries Whom and Why," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 114(1), pages 175-201, February.
  11. Zhehui Luo & Ren Mu & Xiaobo Zhang, 2006. "Famine and Overweight in China ," Review of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 28(3), pages 296-304.
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