Female family headship has strong implications for endemic poverty in the United States. Consequently, it is imperative to explore the chief factors that contribute to this problem. Departing from prior literature that places significant weight on welfare-incentive effects, our study highlights the role of male marriageability in explaining the prevalence of never-married female family headship for blacks and whites. Specifically, we examine racial differences in the effect of male marriageability on never-married female headship from 1980 to 2010. By exploiting data from IPUMS-USA (N = 4,958,722) and exogenous variation from state-level sentencing reforms, the study finds that the decline in the relative supply of marriageable males significantly increases the incidence of never-married female family headship for blacks but not for whites.
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- Female Family Headship
- Marriageable Males
- Sex Ratio