War, Marriage Markets, and the Sex Ratio at Birth

Dirk Bethmann, Michael Kvasnicka

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


In belligerent countries, male-to-female sex ratios at birth increased during and shortly after the two world wars. These rises occurred amidst dramatically changed marriage-market conditions caused by war-related declines in adult sex ratios, and still defy explanation. Based on county-level census data for the German state of Bavaria in the years just before and immediately after World War II, we explore the reduced-form relationship between changes in marriage-market tightness (the adult sex ratio) and changes in the offspring sex ratio, and we discuss potential mechanisms that might link the two. Our results suggest that war-induced shortfalls of men significantly increased the percentage of boys among newborns.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)859-877
Number of pages19
JournalScandinavian Journal of Economics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2014 Jul


  • Marriage markets
  • Sex ratio at birth
  • World War

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics and Econometrics


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