Perceived and Local Sex Ratios
Andreas Filser, University of Oldenburg
Richard Preetz, University of Oldenburg
This study analyses whether perceived sex ratios correlate with local sex ratios on municipality and county level in Germany. Thus, we seek to contribute to the understanding of potential mechanisms that regulate social consequences of sex ratio. Most studies to date used administrative data, lacking subjective assessments of partner market dynamics. We use data from the first seven waves (2008-2015) of the Panel Analysis of Intimate Relationships and Family Dynamics (pairfam), a longitudinal survey of partnership and family dynamics of three German birth cohorts (1971-73, 1981-83, 1991-93), offering individual-level and subjective partner dynamic data. Specifically, we use an indicator of perceived sex ratios answered by respondents who identified as heterosexual singles actively looking for a partner. In view of differential calculations of sex ratios in the literature, we test a variety of operationalisations: 3-, 4-, 6-, and 10-year age ranges with no, 1-year and 2-year age shifts between male and female cohorts. In addition, we also test variants of the adult sex ratio with age spans from 15 to 39 and from 15 to 49, respectively. Moreover, we use counties and equivalent city entities (Landkreise und Kreisfreie Städte) as well as municipalities (Gemeinden) as local partner market units. Our results show that local sex ratios and perceived sex ratios correlate very low with each other: Values of Spearman’s ρ fail to exceed .01 for any of the operationalisations of local sex ratios. Furthermore, results remain the same when using a categorized version of local sex ratios as female-skewed, (nearly) balanced, and male-skewed. What is more, results are the same for men and women.
This finding is corroborated by a multi-level discrete time event history analysis of transitions into relationships. Controlling for age, age-squared, education, employment status, enrolment status, relationship experience, eastern locality, and parenthood, we find that favourable subjective sex ratios are significantly associated with a higher likelihood of transition into a relationship. Local sex ratios however only proved to be significant for women’s transitions only. Consistent with our prior finding, both sex ratio measure’s estimates are invariant against adding/dropping the other from the model.
In sum, our findings suggest that local and subjective sex ratio are independent of one another. Consequently, sex ratio effects on behavioural outcomes are rather unlikely to be due to conscious strategy adjustments. Subjective partner availability and local sex ratios appear to be separate factors, questioning stated mechanisms of sex ratio effects on behavioural outcomes via optimizing choices. Instead, local sex ratios may affect relationship formation via processes not observed by individuals.
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Presented in Session 1235: Posters