Obesity and sex ratios in the U.S.

Wanchuan Lin, Kathryn McEvilly, Juan Pantano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


This paper studies how rising male incarceration and its impact on marriage markets has affected female incentives to gain weight. Exogenous variation in marriage market conditions is obtained from differential trends in male incarceration rates across markets defined by race, location and age. We provide evidence that marriage market conditions do in fact affect the incidence of obesity. In particular, we find that increases in male imprisonment that reduced the male–female sex-ratio explain about 18 % of the increase in the female obesity rate for African-Americans in the United States over the 1990s. Results are particularly large for those in the younger age group (ages 18–23).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)269-292
Number of pages24
JournalReview of Economics of the Household
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Incarceration
  • Marriage markets
  • Obesity
  • Sex ratio

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Economics and Econometrics


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