Consequences of Imbalanced Sex Ratios: Evidence from America's Second Generation

Josh Angrist

NBER Working Paper No. 8042
Issued in December 2000
NBER Program(s):Labor Studies

A combination of changing migration patterns and US immigration restrictions acted to shift the male-female balance in many ethnic groups in the early 20th Century. I use this variation to study the consequences of changing sex ratios for the children of immigrants. Immigrant sex ratios affected the second generation for a number of reasons, most importantly because immigrants and their children typically married in the same ethnic group. The results suggest that higher sex ratios, defined as the number of men per woman, had a large positive impact on the likelihood of female marriage. More surprisingly, second-generation male marriage rates were also an increasing function of immigrant sex ratios. The results also suggest that higher sex ratios raised male earnings and the incomes of parents with young children. The interpretation of these findings is complicated by changes in extended family structure associated with changing sex ratios. On balance, however, the results are consistent with theories where higher sex ratios increase male competition for women in the marriage market.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w8042

Published: Angrist, Josh. "How Do Sex Ratios Affect Marriage And Labor Markets? Evidence From America's Second Generation," Quarterly Journal of Economics, 2002, v107(3,Aug), 997-1038.

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