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Marriage Squeeze

Consequences Of A Male Marriage Squeeze

A male marriage squeeze is less common than the female one and has received less attention. The social consequences are less clear (Hooper and England 1988). A female marriage squeeze tends to destabilize the traditional family, but a male marriage squeeze tends to reinforce it. In a male marriage squeeze, where all available women are taken in marriage, the distinction between an eligible woman and one who is already taken is crucial.

When there is an excess of males, increasing proportions do not marry, or marry at a later age (Lloyd and South 1996). Women are valuable in part because they are scarce. The proportion of ever-married people increases, the age at marriage decreases, and fertility increases. Nonmarital sexuality of respectable women is repressed, resulting in decreased rates of common-law marriage and illegitimacy and an increased proportion of children living in intact homes. There may be an increase in rates of male sexual violence (Pedersen 1991).

When there is a male marriage squeeze, the men who are most disadvantaged in competing are those who are too young or too poor. Familial success depends largely on economic resources, resulting in a clear motive towards financially success careers. When wives are valued as wives, the trend will be toward their decreased labor force involvement and increased fertility. Grounds for divorce will be stringent, and rates of divorce will be low. Rates of remarriage for women will be high.

The extent to which these projected outcomes will actually come about is not known. In Japan, there is a definite male marriage squeeze among young adults, but a definite female marriage squeeze among older cohorts (Kono 1991). More circumstances of a male marriage squeeze will emerge if and when developing countries experience a sharp decline in cohort size.

Additional topics

Marriage and Family EncyclopediaRelationshipsMarriage Squeeze - Social Dimensions Of The Pool Of Eligibles, The Mating Gradient, Sex Ratios: Measuring The Marriage Squeeze