Large Shocks and Small Changes in the Marriage Market for Famine Born Cohorts in China

Source: RePEc

ABSTRACT Between 1958 and 1961, China experienced one of its worst famines in history. Birth rates plummeted during these years, but recovered immediately afterwards. The famine-born cohorts were relatively scarce in the marriage and labor markets. The famine also adversely affected the health of these cohorts. This paper decomposes these two effects on the marital outcomes of the famine-born and adjacent cohorts in the rural areas of two hard hit provinces, Sichuan and Anhui. Individuals born pre and post-famine, who were in surplus relative to their customary spouses, were able to marry. Using the Choo Siow model of marriage matching, the paper shows that the famine substantially reduced the marital attractiveness of the famine born cohort. The modest decline in educational attainment of the famine born cohort does not explain the change in spousal quality of that cohort. Thus, the famine-born cohort, who were relatively scarce compared with their customary spouses, did not have significant above average marriage rates.

1 Bookmark
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Choo-Siow (2006) proposed a model for the marriage market which allows for random identically distributed noise in the preferences of each of the participants. The randomness is McFadden-type, which permits an explicit resolution of the equilibrium preference probabilities. The purpose of this note is to prove uniqueness of the resulting equilibrium marriage distribution, and find a representation of it in closed form. This allows us to derive smooth dependence of this distribution on exogenous preference and population parameters, and establish sign, symmetry, and size of the various substitution effects, facilitating comparative statics. For example, we show that an increase in the population of men of any given type in this model leads to an increase in single men of each type, and a decrease in single women of each type. We show that an increase in the number of men of a given type increases the equilibrium transfer paid by such men to their spouses, and also increases the percentage of men of that type who choose to remain unmarried. The verification of such properties helps to substantiate the validity of the model. Moreover, we make unexpected predictions which could be tested: the percentage change of type $i$ unmarrieds with respect to fluctuations in the total number of type $j$ men or women turns out to form a symmetric positive-definite matrix $r_{ij}=r_{ji}$ in this model, and thus to satisfy bounds like $|r_{ij}| \le (r_{ii}r_{jj})^{1/2}$. Along the way, we give a new proof for the existence of an equilibrium, based on a strictly convex variational principle and a simple estimate, rather than a fixed point theorem. Fixed point approaches to the existence part of our result have been explored by others \cite{CSS} \cite{Dag} \cite{Fox}, but are much more complicated and yield neither uniqueness, nor comparative statics, nor an explicit representation of the solution.
    Journal of Economic Theory 12/2010; · 1.24 Impact Factor
  • Source
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The human costs of famines outlast the famines themselves. An increasing body of research points to their adverse long-run consequences for those born or in utero during them. This paper offers an introduction to the burgeoning literature on fetal origins and famine through a review of research on one well-known case study and a bibliography of published work in the field generally.

Full-text (2 Sources)

Available from
May 28, 2014