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Unbalanced Sex Ratios in Germany Caused by World War II and their Effect on Fertility : A Life Cycle Perspective

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  • Kesternich, Iris
  • Siflinger, Bettina

    (Tilburg University, Center For Economic Research)

  • Smith, James P.
  • Steckenleiter, Carina

Abstract

This paper analyzes the effects of permanently unbalanced sex ratios in Germany caused by World War II on fertility outcomes over the life cycle. Using Census records linked with individual biography data, our analysis confirms the commonly found short-term pattern of decreased fertility rates due to a stark imbalance of the sex ratio. Yet, the long-term effects of such an imbalance crucially depend on when in the life cycle fertility is evaluated. We find that female cohorts with low sex ratios have fewer children at younger ages and a larger fraction remains childless. While childlessness remains higher throughout their life cycle, mothers from affected cohorts catch up and even overcompensate at later ages with respect to the number of children. Our preferred reading of this result is that with low sex ratios women select themselves into late motherhood according to their fertility preferences. This interpretation is consistent with the finding that women from affected cohorts expand their childbearing period and accept lower quality matches in the marriage market. Our findings have important implications for understanding the long-term consequences of large population shocks.
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  • Kesternich, Iris & Siflinger, Bettina & Smith, James P. & Steckenleiter, Carina, 2018. "Unbalanced Sex Ratios in Germany Caused by World War II and their Effect on Fertility : A Life Cycle Perspective," Discussion Paper 2018-032, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
  • Handle: RePEc:tiu:tiucen:477a3d49-f1af-45e9-a0e3-69d096522c3a
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    1. Grant, Iris & Kesternich, Iris & Steckenleiter, Carina & Winter, Joachim, 2018. "Historic sex-ratio imbalances predict female participation in the market for politicians," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 156(C), pages 144-165.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    sex ratio; fertility; marriage; life cycle; World War II;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • J10 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - General
    • 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

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