Left at either end

Rising sex ratios in Asia and other parts of the world have been getting a lot of attention lately. Or at lest, I see them a lot. The idea that men at all socioeconomic levels are being left behind in the marriage market as women become more scarce is one that promises to have effects on everything from gender-based violence to construction inefficiencies as time goes on.

While perhaps a smaller problem, it’s clear that there are women losing out in Asia, too, when it comes to the marriage market, though not for the same reason. As much as economist might love the concept of ceteris paribus, changes in the sex ratio aren’t the only changes sweeping the world. In cities in particular, as women become more highly educated than men and begin to close the wage gap, a culture of “marrying up” means those highly educated, paycheck-earning women are having a hard time finding wives.

I have no idea how many women this might actually be affecting, but I do think it poses interesting questions of social and economic mobility. Like, is the entire distribution of women shifting towards more education and higher incomes? Or is there only movement at the top? And if there’s only movement at the top, then does that mean men are reaching “lower” into the pool, to less and less educated women? Or are the education and income differentials relatively constant?

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