The Culture that is China: Pimp My Ride Edition

My latest research paper (downloadable here) with my friend and colleague Daniel Hicks and my grad student Weici Yuan, studies how skewed sex ratios in China help promote conspicuous consumption in unmarried Chinese men.

It seems impossible, but there are parts of China where there are 132 men for every 100 women.  YIKES! Thats a heck of a policy, that one child policy (especially when combined with strong preferences for male children).

We study automobile purchases and use a diff in diff in diff approach to identify the effect. Here is the most basic results with no controls:

ddd graph

So going from the quartile with the most balance sex ratios to that with the most skewed raises the car spending of unmarried men by 7200 RMB or around $1200.

We also show that this status competition results in increased purchases of cars with lower gas milage and higher vehicle weight, meaning that it also creates negative externalities.

One thought on “The Culture that is China: Pimp My Ride Edition

  1. In retrospect, the one-child policy will have serious effects upon the culture in China. The dearth of marriageable women might ultimately raise their social status. It will certainly change the dynamics in the mating dance. I worry, though, that a very large number of frustrated single men will ultimately lead to social problems. Otherwise, the market place might lend a hand – societies have come up with many ways to cope. There may be quite a few foreign brides, then there’s the worlds oldest profession, er, solution…..

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