3 minute read

Marriage Squeeze


Racial differences in marriage-market conditions accentuate, but do not explain completely, black-white differences in marriage rates (Lichter et al. 1991; Lloyd and South 1996). The black experience suggests changes that might also appear in the white population, but there is no reason to expect they will be exactly the same. The consequences of a female marriage squeeze cannot be predicted independently of the culture in which it occurs.

For each of the outcomes that have been associated with a marriage squeeze, at the societal or at the interpersonal level, there are many other contributing factors. Thus, a marriage squeeze contributes to declining fertility, but declining fertility also reflects industrialization, medical advances in birth technology, education of women, and the population explosion. A marriage squeeze is an important factor in the continuation of traditional families or in their destabilization, but it is only one of many demographic and social forces in operation.



Albrecht, C., and Fossett, M. (1997). "Mate Availability, Women's Marriage Prevalence, and Husband's Education." Journal of Family Issues 18:429–453.

Bhat, P.; Mari, H.; and Shiva, S. "Demography of Bride-price and Dowry: Causes and Consequences of the Indian Marriage Squeeze." Population Studies 53:129–148.

Chu, J. (2001). "Prenatal Sex Determination and Sex- Selective Abortion in Rural Central China" Population and Development Review 27:259–281.

Crowder, K., and Tonlay, S. (2000). "A New Marriage Squeeze for Black Women: The Role of Racial Inter-marriage by Black Men." Journal of Marriage and Family 62:792–808.

Davis, L. (2000). "Factors Contributing to Partner Commitment Among Unmarried African Americans." Social Work Research 24:4–16.

Davis, L., and Emerson, S. (1997). "Black Dating Professionals' Perceptions of Equity, Satisfaction, Power and Romantic Alternatives and Ideals." Journal of Black Psychology 23:148–165.

Fossett, M., and. Kiecolt, K. (1991). "A Methodological Review of the Sex Ratio: Alternatives for Comparative Research." Journal of Marriage and the Family 53:941–957.

Glick, P. (1988). "Fifty Years of Family Demography: A Record of Social Change." Journal of Marriage and the Family 50:861–873.

Goodkind, D. (1997). "The Vietnamese Double Marriage Squeeze." International Migration Review 31:108–27.

Greene, M., and Rao, V. (1995): "The Marriage Squeeze and the Rise in Informal Marriage in Brazil." Social Biology 42:65–82.

Guttentag, M., and Secord, P. F. (1983). Too Many Women? The Sex Ratio Question. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage.

Hamilton, L., and Otterstad, O. (1998). "Sex Ratio and Community Size: Notes from the Northern Atlantic." Population and Environment 20:11–22.

Hooper, D. A., and England, J. L. (1988). "Single Females in Rural Energy-Impacted Countries: The Effects of Rapid Growth and a Male Marriage-Market Squeeze." Rural Sociology 53:87–95.

Huguet, J. et al., (2000). "Results of the 1998 Population Census in Cambodia." Asia-Pacific Population Journal 18:1–18.

Kim, J. (1997). "The Relationship between Sex-ratio and Marital Behavior." Health and Social Welfare Review 17:99–120.

Kono, S. (1991). "A Treatise on Sex-Ratio in Population by Marital Status: Marriage Squeeze and Widowhood." Journal of Population Problems 47:1–6.

Lichter, D. (1990). "Delayed Marriage, Marital Homogamy, and the Mate Selection Process among White Women." Social Science Quarterly 71:802–811.

Lichter, D., and Anderson, R. (1995). "Marriage Markets and Marital Choice." Journal of Family Issues 16:412–420.

Lichter, D. et al. (1992). "Race and the Retreat from Marriage." American Sociological Review 57:781–799.

Lichter, D.; LeClere, F.; and McLaughlin, D. (1991). "Local Marriage Markets and the Marital Behavior of Black and White Women." American Journal of Sociology 96:843–867.

Lloyd, K., and South, S. (1996). "Contextual Influences of Young Men's Transition to First Marriage." Social Forces 74:1097–1119.

McCaa, R. (1993). "Ethnic Intermarriage and Gender in New York City." Journal of Interdisciplinary History 16:412–432.

Pedersen, F. (1991). "Secular Trends in Human Sex Ratios: Their Influence on Individual and Family Behavior." Human Nature 2:271–291.

Rao, V. (1993), "The Rising Price of Husbands: A Hedonic Analysis of Dowry Increases in Rural India." Journal of Political Economy 101:666–677.

South, S., and Lloyd, K. (1992), "Marriage Opportunities And Family Formation: Further Implications of Imbalanced Sex-ratios." Journal of Marriage and the Family 54:440–451.

Stier, H., and Shavit, Y. (1994) "Age At Marriage, Sexratios, And Ethnic Heterogamy." European Sociological Review 10:79–87.

Taylor, R.; Jackson, S.; and Chatters, L. (1997). Family Life in Black America. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Tucker, M., and Mitchell-Kerman, C. (1995). The Decline in Marriage Among African Americans: Causes, Consequences and Policy Implications. New York: Russell Sage.

Veevers, J. (1988). "The 'Real' Marriage Squeeze: Mate Selection, Mortality and the Marriage Gradient." Sociological Perspectives 31:169–189.


Additional topics

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