Sex Ratio Effects on Marital Formation and Dissolution, 1980–2000

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Cindy Brooks Dollar, Assistant Professor (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
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Abstract: Although marriage market characteristics are often used to explain in–out marriage transitions, Guttentag and Secord's sex ratio thesis provides a unique theoretical framework by which to elucidate marriage and divorce. The theory emphasizes the availability of “opposite” sex partners as an important factor, but hypothesized outcomes assume a gendered marriage market whereby males are more socioeconomically powerful than females. Using geographically standardized census tract data (N = 65,443), I examine the theory empirically across three decennial time points. After establishing that males, on average, hold a disproportionate amount of socioeconomic power, I conduct cross-sectional regression analyses of marriage and divorce from 1980 to 2000. Results partially support the theory. While female marriage is consistently related to sex ratios as expected, sex ratios influence male marriage as expected only in some time periods and female and male divorce do not operate as expected in any time point. The findings imply that marriage entry and dissolution have distinctive causal mechanisms, suggesting the need for further theorization and research.

Additional Information

Sociological Inquiry, 85(4), 556-575
Language: English
Date: 2015
Sex ratio, Marriage, Divorce, Socioeconomic power, Gender

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