When Work Disappears: Manufacturing Decline and the Falling Marriage-Market Value of Young Men
25 Pages Posted: 21 Feb 2017 Last revised: 26 Apr 2021
Date Written: February 2017
We exploit the gender-specific components of large-scale labor demand shocks stemming from rising international manufacturing competition to test how shifts in the relative economic stature of young men versus young women affected marriage, fertility and children’s living circumstances during 1990-2014. On average, trade shocks differentially reduce employment and earnings, raise the prevalence of idleness, and elevate premature mortality among young males. Consistent with Becker’s model of household specialization, shocks to male relative stature reduce marriage and fertility. Consistent with sociological accounts, these shocks raise the share of mothers who are unwed and share of children living in below-poverty, single-headed households.
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