Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Decline in "Marriageable" Young Men

Marriage rates have fallen among younger adults over the past few decades, but they've fallen the most among the least educated. What is behind the disproportionate decline? NBER researchers answer that question by testing a hypothesis: marriage rates are down the most among the least-educated (high school or less education) because the supply of "marriageable" men has dried up.

The results confirm the hypothesis. The researchers uncover a hot mess of consequences in the aggregate and in local areas that have experienced adverse shocks in manufacturing employment over the past few decades, including...

  • a decline in male and female employment
  • a decline in men's relative earnings, especially among lower-income men
  • an increase in men's mortality from risky and unhealthful behaviors
  • a reduction in the availability of marriage-age males in affected labor markets
  • a reduction in the percentage of young adults getting married
  • a decline in fertility
  • an increase in the percentage of births to teen and unmarried mothers
  • an increase in the percentage of children living in poverty

Bottom line: "We conclude that the declining employment and earnings opportunities faced by young (i.e. under 40) U.S. males are a plausible contributor to the changing structure of marriage and childbirth in the United States."

Source: National Bureau of Economic Research, When Work Disappears: Manufacturing Decline and the Falling Marriage-Market Value of Men, Working Paper 23173 ($5)

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