Male Incarceration, the Marriage Market and Female Outcomes

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IZA Seminar

Place: Schaumburg-Lippe-Str. 9, 53113 Bonn

Date: 13.12.2005, 12:15 - 13:30


Presentation by 

Kerwin Kofi Charles (Harris School, University of Chicago)


This paper studies how rising male incarceration has affected women, through its effect on the marriage market. Variation in the marriage market shocks arising from incarceration is isolated using two facts: the tendency of people to marry within marriage markets defined by the interaction of race, location and age; and the fact that increases in incarceration have been very different across these three characteristics. Using a variety of estimation strategies, including difference and fixed effects models and TSLS models in which we use policy parameters to instrument for within marriage market changes in incarceration, we find strong and consistent evidence that women have been affected by rising incarceration precisely as the standard marriage market model would imply. Higher male imprisonment has lowered the likelihood that women marry, and reduced the quality of their spouses when they do, and caused a shift in the gains from marriage away from women and towards men. The evidence suggests that women in affected markets have increased their schooling and labor supply in response to these changes.

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