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Marriage Market Imbalances and Labor Supply of Women: A Model with Competitive Markets for Wife Services and Application to U. S. Regions

By Shoshana Grossbard-shechtman


This paper predicts that marriage market imbalances favoring men push married women into the labor force, whereas marriage market imbalances favoring women tend to keep married women at home. These imbalances are measured in terms of sex ratios. These predictions follow from a competitive marriage market model that views women as suppliers of wife-services, recognizes that the sex ratio of marriage eligibles affects intra-marriage transfers and value of time, and models the labor supply of married women as an inverse function of a value of time conditioned by marriage market conditions (assuming a preference for avoiding work). The empirical analysis uses time series for 4 U.S. regions to test whether fluctuations in the sex ratio help explain changes in women’s labor force participation. After controlling for fertility, men’s wages, education, a time trend, and regional dummies, it is found that regional sex ratio fluctuations over time are inversely related to growth in women’s LFP. This is true for all women, married and unmarried. It is also true for married women separately. Furthermore, we find that marriage market imbalances are likely to have more impact on the labor force participation of married women with low education than on that of married women with

Year: 2002
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