This paper uses survey and experimental data from prison inmates and comparable
non-inmates to examine the drivers of rising criminality in China. We find that China’s
high sex ratios are associated with greater risk-taking, greater impatience and greater
neuroticism amongst males. These underlying behavioural impacts explain some part
of the increase in criminality. The primary avenue through which the sex ratio increases
crime, however, is the direct pressure on men to appear financially attractive in order
to find a partner in the marriage market. These marriage market pressures result in a
higher propensity to commit financially rewarding crimes.
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