Love in the Time of Depression

Matthew Hill, University of California, Los Angeles

I use microeconomic data to investigate the impact of GDP on marriage rates during the Great Depression. I find that during the Great Depression a standard deviation decrease in retail sales per capita, my proxy for local GDP, lowered a woman’s probability of marriage by 9%. In the first few years of the Great Depression the effect of GDP on marriage rates operated largely through high male unemployment. A 10 percentage point increase in male unemployment lowered a woman’s probability of marriage by 11 percentage points. I also find that while GDP is generally positively correlated with marriage rates, other trends present during times of distress increase marriage rates. Specifically, decreased labor force opportunities for women and lower home prices raise the probability of marriage.

  See extended abstract

Presented in Poster Session 7