Working Papers

International Migration, Sex Ratios, and the Socioeconomic Outcomes of Non-migrant Mexican Women


This paper assesses whether international migration from Mexico impacts the marital, fertility, schooling, and employment outcomes of the Mexican women who remain behind. To estimate the impact of the relative supply of men on female outcomes, I exploit variation over time as well as across Mexican states in the demographic imbalance between men and women. I construct a gauge of the relative supply of men for women of different age groups based on statelevel male and female population counts. Potential male spouses are allocated across female age groups based on the empirically-observed propensity of men of specific ages to marry women of specific ages. Using data from the 1960, 1970, 1990, and 2000 Mexican censuses, I estimate a series of models where the dependent variable is the inter-census change in an average outcome for Mexican women measured by state and for specific age groups and the key explanatory variable is the change in the relative supply of men to women in that state/age group. To address possible bias from selective out-migration of women in response to the scarcity of men, I also present results where the gauge of the relative supply of males is instrumented using a similar gauge calculated based on one’s state of birth rather than one’s current state of residence. I find that the declining relative supply of males positively and significantly impacts the proportion of women who have never been married as well as the proportion of women who have never had a child. In addition, states experiencing the largest declines in the relative supply of men also experience relatively large increases in female educational attainment and female employment rates. However, I find little evidence that women who do marry match to men that are younger or less educated than themselves.