Sex Ratios and the Ethnic Marriage Squeeze in Early 20th Century America

Inbar Weiss, Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Guy Stecklov, Hebrew University of Jerusalem

During the 19th and 20th Century, large waves of international immigrants with very different sex ratios entered the American landscape. We examine the effect of ethnic sex ratios on the marriage market, by looking at marriage patterns of first and second generations immigrants from the six largest immigrants groups in United States. Using data from the 1930 census, we construct measures of ethnic sex ratios at the county level to test how ethnic sex ratios affected both the propensity for marriage and endogamy. Our results, using county-level fixed-effects models, provide evidence that in terms of ever-marrying, women are more affected by the ethnic sex ratios. In contrast, our results show that the probability of marrying endogamously is much more strongly tied to ethnic sex ratios for men. Overall, our findings highlight the importance of ethnic sex ratios in local marriage markets at a critical period of American assimilation.

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Presented in Session 196: Marriage Markets and Assortative Mating