The Role of the Sex Imbalance in Shaping Marital Status
To what extent do imbalances in the ratio of men to women in the population account for the historical trends in marriage and divorce? To answer this question, we build a model of marriage with two main features. First, there exists asymmetry across men and women with respect to the length of their fertile period: men can have children all through adulthood, while women can only bear children for a limited period of time. Second, outside opportunities to marry, measured by the ratio of single men to women, play a central role in inducing agents to marry and divorce. Together, both features are consistent with the secular improvement in marriage conditions for men, the rise in age at marriage, and the rise in divorce observed in the data. After constructing the model, we estimate the model using recent US data to determine what fraction of the variation in marriage rates over time can be explained by changes in the sex ratio
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