Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Document Type



My dissertation primarily investigates the causal impact of economic inequality on marriage formation. I demonstrate how economic inequality among men affects an individual woman’s propensity to get married in both the U.S. and China. Based on the framework of Loughran (2002) and Gould and Paserman (2003), I identify the causal impact of male wage inequality on the marriage propensity among women in the U.S. using the 1990 and 2000 Censuses as well as the 2007 American Community Survey. I address the endogeneity and reverse causality problems by applying skill-biased technological shock as an instrument for the wage gap between high and low educated men following the example of Mocan and Unel (2011). I discover that a low educated woman’s marriage propensity becomes lower but a high educated woman’s marriage propensity becomes higher when there is an increase in the wage ratio between high and low educated men. Additionally, I examine whether in China the income inequality among men affects female marital decision making by utilizing the China Health and Nutrition Survey (CHNS). I find that a one-standard-deviation increase in the Gini coefficient of male income is associated with an increase in the probability of being “ever married” by 5.8 percentage points for urban women and by 6.9 percentage points for rural women aged 20 to 34 from 1989 to 2009.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Mocan, H. Naci

Included in

Economics Commons