Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Legacy Department

Applied Economics

Committee Chair/Advisor

Oreffice, Sonia


This dissertation studies the impact of changes in outside marriage market opportunities on intra-household bargaining power. In the first chapter, I analyze the impact of the availability of healthy mates on intra-household bargaining power. I specify a marriage market matching model and test the main prediction that in marriage markets in which both healthy and frail men marry, an increase in the relative scarcity of healthy women enhances wives' bargaining power. This effect is estimated in a collective labor supply framework in which spousal bargaining power and labor supply are inversely related. I use CPS data and Census data on disability and construct a sex ratio by health status at the metropolitan level. I estimate labor supplies for white married couples and find that a higher relative scarcity of healthy women in the couple's metropolitan area reduces wives' labor supply and increases their husbands'. The role of sex ratios on spouses' bargaining power is further explored in the second chapter. Using Census and CPS data for U.S. metropolitan areas in years 2000, 1990 and 1980, we construct a quality sex ratio by education brackets. We argue that a relative shortage of suitably educated women in the spouse's potential marriage market increases wives' bargaining power and it lowers their husbands'. We further check the prediction that this effect is greater as the assortative rank of couples by education increases. We find that higher relative shortage of comparably educated women in the couple's metropolitan area reduces wives' labor supply and increases their husbands'. The impact is stronger for couples in higher education groups. Consistent with bargaining theory, no such effects are found for unmarried individuals.



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