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When Work Disappears: Manufacturing Decline and the Falling Marriage-Market Value of Men

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  • Autor, David
  • Dorn, David
  • Hanson, Gordon

Abstract

The structure of marriage and child-rearing in U.S. households has undergone two marked shifts in the last three decades: a steep decline in the prevalence of marriage among young adults, and a sharp rise in the fraction of children born to unmarried mothers or living in single-headed households. A potential contributor to both phenomena is the declining labor-market opportunities faced by males, which make them less valuable as marital partners. We exploit large scale, plausibly exogenous labor-demand shocks stemming from rising international manufacturing competition to test how shifts in the supply of young "marriageable" males affect marriage, fertility and children's living circumstances. Trade shocks to manufacturing industries have particularly negative impacts on the labor market prospects of men and degrade their marriage-market value along multiple dimensions: diminishing their relative earnings - particularly at the lower segment of the distribution - reducing their physical availability in trade-impacted labor markets, and increasing their participation in risky and damaging behaviors. As predicted by a simple model of marital decision-making under uncertainty, we document that adverse shocks to the supply of "marriageable" men reduce the prevalence of marriage and lower fertility but raise the fraction of children born to young and unwed mothers and living in in poor single-parent households. The falling marriage-market value of young men appears to be a quantitatively important contributor to the rising

Suggested Citation

  • Autor, David & Dorn, David & Hanson, Gordon, 2017. "When Work Disappears: Manufacturing Decline and the Falling Marriage-Market Value of Men," CEPR Discussion Papers 11878, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:11878
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Fischer, Andreas M & Saure, Philip, 2018. "Identifying Chinese Supply Shocks - Effects of Trade on Labor Markets," CEPR Discussion Papers 13122, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    2. Christopher J. Ruhm, 2018. "Deaths of Despair or Drug Problems?," NBER Working Papers 24188, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Melissa S. Kearney & Riley Wilson, 2017. "Male Earnings, Marriageable Men, and Nonmarital Fertility: Evidence from the Fracking Boom," NBER Working Papers 23408, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Teresa C. Fort & Justin R. Pierce & Peter K. Schott, 2018. "New Perspectives on the Decline of US Manufacturing Employment," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 32(2), pages 47-72, Spring.
    5. Liepmann, Hannah, 2018. "The Impact of a Negative Labor Demand Shock On Fertility - Evidence From the Fall of the Berlin Wall," Rationality and Competition Discussion Paper Series 69, CRC TRR 190 Rationality and Competition.
    6. Iammarino, Simona & Rodríguez-Pose, Andrés & Storper, Michael, 2018. "Regional inequality in Europe: evidence, theory and policy implications," CEPR Discussion Papers 12841, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    7. David A. Jaeger & Theodore J. Joyce & Robert Kaestner, 2018. "A Cautionary Tale of Evaluating Identifying Assumptions: Did Reality TV Really Cause a Decline in Teenage Childbearing?," NBER Working Papers 24856, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. repec:bla:brjirl:v:56:y:2018:i:4:p:835-858 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. repec:pal:imfecr:v:66:y:2018:i:4:d:10.1057_s41308-018-0065-5 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Francesco Vona, 2018. "Job losses and the political acceptability of climate policies : an amplified collective action problem," Sciences Po publications info:hdl:2441/7upb3pbvdn8, Sciences Po.
    11. Anne Case & Angus Deaton, 2017. "Mortality and Morbidity in the 21st Century," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 48(1 (Spring), pages 397-476.
    12. Shushanik Hakobyan & John McLaren, 2018. "NAFTA and the Wages of Married Women," NBER Working Papers 24424, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    13. Fletcher, Jason M. & Polos, Jessica, 2017. "Nonmarital and Teen Fertility," IZA Discussion Papers 10833, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    14. Braga, Breno, 2018. "The Effects of Trade Exposure on Marriage and Fertility Choices: Evidence from Brazil," IZA Discussion Papers 11875, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    15. Krisztina Kis-Katos & Janneke Pieters & Robert Sparrow, 2018. "Globalization and Social Change: Gender-Specific Effects of Trade Liberalization in Indonesia," IMF Economic Review, Palgrave Macmillan;International Monetary Fund, vol. 66(4), pages 763-793, December.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Fertility; Household Structure; import competition; Local Labor Markets; Marriage Market; Single-Parent Families; Trade Flows;

    JEL classification:

    • F16 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade and Labor Market Interactions
    • J12 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Marriage; Marital Dissolution; Family Structure
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • J21 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Labor Force and Employment, Size, and Structure
    • J23 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Labor Demand

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