The Effect of 'Surplus' Men on Xenophobia: Panel Data from the Neue Bundesländer

Research question/goal: 

In the absence of manipulation, both the sex ratio at birth and the population sex ratio are remarkably constant in human populations. In large parts of Asia and North Africa, the tradition of son preferences, manifest through sex-selective abortion and discrimination in care practices for girls, has distorted these natural sex ratios. The large cohorts of "surplus" males now reaching adulthood are predominantly of low socioeconomic class, and numerous studies express concerns that their lack of marriageability, and the consequent marginalization in society, may lead to antisocial behaviour, violence, prostitution, and HIV spread.

Although less dramatic in origin and size, qualitatively similar cohorts of "surplus" men have also emerged in the Neue Bundesländer, where disproportionally many women left rural municipalities during the last two decades since re-unification. We study the effects of these cohorts of "surplus" men by combining micro-level survey data on attitudes with municipality-level data on demographics. Using this new panel data set covering all former East German Landeskreise over the last 20 years, we can estimate the direct demographic effects of "surplus" men on cohabitation, marriage, and divorce rates, and the indirect sociological effects of social marginalization on xenophobic attitudes towards foreigners and support for extreme-right parties.

Current stage: 

After the rejection of the project proposal by the German Research Foundation (DFG) in 2015, we revised the proposal and submitted it to the Fritz Thyssen Foundation in September 2016. Meanwhile, we have intensified the collection of registry data (online and on site) to be merged with the SOEP and ALLBUS data with the intention of providing a preliminary database for analyses.

Fact sheet

MZES, Uni Mannheim
2012 to 2018
in preparation
Data Sources: 
primary data / secondary data
Geographic Space: