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Sex Ratios and Long-Term Marriage Trends

Author

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  • Shannon Seitz

    (Boston College)

  • Jose-Victor Rios-Rull

    (University of Minnesota)

  • Satoshi Tanaka

    (University of Queensland)

Abstract

In this paper, we ask to what extent changes to the age and sex structure of the population account for the changes in the marriage behavior observed in the United States in the last century (from 1900 to 1980). The decrease in mortality, especially for women, and the changes in immigration patterns have increased the female to male ratio. With respect to marriage, there has been i) an increase in its incidence, ii) a reduction in the gender gap of the median age at first marriage, and iii) an increase in the divorce rate. We pose a model of marriage and divorce in which preferences over spouses depend on their age and on love (an idiosyncratic shock) and where search frictions make it difficult to get new partners. We estimate our model using marital and population patterns of the 1950-1959 birth cohort. Using the preference parameters estimated on the 1950s cohort and the age and sex structure of the 1870s cohort, we find our model can generate marriage patterns which are quite similar to those observed in the earlier period. By making divorce costly for the 1870s cohort, the resemblance is much stronger. In particular, we find that these features account for most of the changes in the marriage behavior observed in the last century; our model explains i) 94.5% of the increase in the incidence of marriage, and ii) 140.8% of the shrink the gender age gap in the median age at first marriage.

Suggested Citation

  • Shannon Seitz & Jose-Victor Rios-Rull & Satoshi Tanaka, 2013. "Sex Ratios and Long-Term Marriage Trends," 2013 Meeting Papers 1349, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  • Handle: RePEc:red:sed013:1349
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    File URL: https://economicdynamics.org/meetpapers/2013/paper_1349.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Jeremy Greenwood & Nezih Guner, 2009. "Marriage and Divorce since World War II: Analyzing the Role of Technological Progress on the Formation of Households," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 2008, Volume 23, pages 231-276, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Claudia Goldin & Lawrence F. Katz, 2002. "The Power of the Pill: Oral Contraceptives and Women's Career and Marriage Decisions," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(4), pages 730-770, August.
    3. Stefania Albanesi & Claudia Olivetti, 2014. "Maternal health and the baby boom," Quantitative Economics, Econometric Society, vol. 5, pages 225-269, July.
    4. Mariacristina De Nardi & Selahattin Imrohoroglu & Thomas J. Sargent, 1999. "Projected U.S. Demographics and Social Security," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 2(3), pages 575-615, July.
    5. Josh Angrist, 2002. "How Do Sex Ratios Affect Marriage and Labor Markets? Evidence from America's Second Generation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(3), pages 997-1038.
    6. S. Rao Aiyagari & Jeremy Greenwood & Nezih Guner, 2000. "On the State of the Union," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 108(2), pages 213-244, April.
    7. Gary S. Becker, 1981. "A Treatise on the Family," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number beck81-1, Juni.
    8. Michael J. Brien, 1997. "Racial Differences in Marriage and the Role of Marriage Markets," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 32(4), pages 741-778.
    9. Aloysius Siow, 1998. "Differential Fecundity, Markets, and Gender Roles," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 106(2), pages 334-354, April.
    10. Jose-Victor Rios-Rull & Jacob Short & Ferdinando Regalia, 2010. "What Accounts for the Increase in the Number of Single Households?," 2010 Meeting Papers 995, Society for Economic Dynamics.
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