IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

War, Marriage Markets And The Sex Ratio At Birth


  • Dirk Bethmann

    () (Faculty of Economics and Management, Otto-von-Guericke University Magdeburg)

  • Michael Kvasnicka

    () (Rheinisch-Westfälisches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung (RWI))


In belligerent countries, male-to-female sex ratios at birth increased during and shortly after the two world wars. These rises still defy explanation. Several causes have been suggested (but not tested) in the literature. Many of these causes are proximate in nature, reflecting behavioral responses to the dramatically changed marriage market conditions for women and men that were induced by war-related declines in adult sex ratios. Based on county-level census data for the German state of Bavaria in the vicinity and aftermath of World War II, we explore the reduced-form relationship between changes in adult and offspring sex ratios. Our results suggest that war-induced shortfalls of men signficantly increased the percentage of boys among newborns.

Suggested Citation

  • Dirk Bethmann & Michael Kvasnicka, 2011. "War, Marriage Markets And The Sex Ratio At Birth," FEMM Working Papers 110023, Otto-von-Guericke University Magdeburg, Faculty of Economics and Management.
  • Handle: RePEc:mag:wpaper:110023

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    File Function: First version, 2011
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Gordon B. Dahl & Enrico Moretti, 2008. "The Demand for Sons," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 75(4), pages 1085-1120.
    2. Lena Edlund, 1999. "Son Preference, Sex Rations, and Marriage Patterns," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(6), pages 1275-1304, December.
    3. Dirk Bethmann & Michael Kvasnicka, 2013. "World War II, Missing Men and Out of Wedlock Childbearing," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 123(567), pages 162-194, March.
    4. Monica Das Gupta, 2005. "Explaining Asia's "Missing Women": A New Look at the Data," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 31(3), pages 529-535.
    5. Pierre-Andre Chiappori & Bernard Fortin & Guy Lacroix, 2002. "Marriage Market, Divorce Legislation, and Household Labor Supply," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(1), pages 37-72, February.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Hicks, Daniel L., 2013. "War and the political zeitgeist: Evidence from the history of female suffrage," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 31(C), pages 60-81.
    2. La Mattina, Giulia, 2017. "Civil conflict, domestic violence and intra-household bargaining in post-genocide Rwanda," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 124(C), pages 168-198.

    More about this item


    World War II; Adult Sex Ratio; Marriage Markets; Sex Ratio at Birth;

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:mag:wpaper:110023. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Guido Henkel). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.