Male Marriageability and Local Marriage Market Outcomes: Exploiting Economic Globalization as a Natural Experiment

Fangqi Wen, New York University (NYU)
Florencia Torche, New York University (NYU)
Dalton Conley, New York University (NYU)

Since William Julius Wilson proposed the famous “marriageable men hypothesis”, a number of empirical studies have examined the effect of male marriageability on marriage market outcomes. However, due to limitations in data and research design, most previous studies could not go further than revealing simple correlations. In this paper, we reexamine the causal effect of male marriageability on local female marriage rate by exploiting a natural experiment. Specifically, we treat different levels of regional exposure to the increasing imports from China as an exogenous shock and further implement it as the instrumental variable for our key independent variable “male marriageability”. Our results suggest that the exposure to imports from China is a valid instrument. By using three-stage least squares estimation, we find the effect of male marriageability is statistically insignificant, indicating that some unobserved confounders contribute to the spurious positive relationship between male marriageability and local female marriage rate.

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Presented in Session 149: Family and the Economy