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Fertility Shocks and Equilibrium Marriage-Rate Dynamics:

Lessons from World War 1 in France

With Guillaume Vandenbroucke (Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis)


Low sex ratios are often equated with unfavourable marriage prospects for women, but in France after World War 1, the marriage probability of single females rose 50%, despite a massive drop in the male/female ratio. We conjecture that the war-time birth-rate bust induced an abnormal post-war abundance of singles with relatively high marriage propensities. We compute the equilibrium response, in a life-cycle matching model, of marriage hazards to war-time fertility and male-mortality shocks. Our results implicate two powerful forces: an abnormal abundance of marriageable men, and increased gains from marriage due to post-war pro-natalism.

Keywords: Family Economics, Household Formation, Marriage, Fertility.

JEL Classification: D10, E13, J12,J13,and O11.

(formerly titled: Dynamic Squeezing: Marriage and Fertility in France After World War One).