Gabriela Rubio UCMerced

CV  |  Working Papers  |  Work in Progress

Assistant Professor
University of California, Merced


Curriculum Vitae

Research Interests
Development Economics and Labor Economics

Contact Information
University of California, Merced
Department of Economics
Merced, CA 95343

Phone: (+1) 510-388-0337.
E-mail: grubio4@ucmerced.edu


Working Papers

  • How love conquered marriage: Theory and Evidence on the Disappearance of Arranged Marriages
    (Current Draft: February, 2014)

    Abstract: Using a large number of sources, this paper documents the sharp and continuous decline of arranged marriages (AM) around the world during the past century, and describes the factors associated with this transition. To understand these patterns, I construct and empirically test a model of marital choices that assumes that AM serve as a form of informal insurance for parents and children, whereas other forms of marriage do not. In this model, children accepting the AM will have access to insurance but might give up higher family income by constraining their geographic and social mobility. Children in love marriages (LM) are not geographically/socially constrained, so they can look for the partner with higher labor market returns, and they can have access to better remunerated occupations. The model predicts that arranged marriages disappear when the net benefits of the insurance arrangement decrease relative to the (unconstrained) returns outside of the social network. Using consumption and income panel data from the Indonesia Family Life Survey (IFLS), I show that consumption of AM households does not vary with household income (while consumption of LM households does), consistent with the model’s assumption that AM provides insurance. I then empirically test the main predictions of the model. I use the introduction of the Green Revolution (GR) in Indonesia as a quasi-experiment. First, I show that the GR increased the returns to schooling and lowered the variance of agricultural income. Then, I use a difference-in-difference identification strategy to show that cohorts exposed to the GR experienced a faster decline in AM as predicted by the theoretical framework. Second, I show the existence of increasing divorce rates among couples with AM as their insurance gains vanish. Finally, using the exogenous variation of the GR, I find that couples having an AM and exposed to the program were more likely to divorce, consistent with the hypothesis of declining relative gains of AM.

    Mentioned in Media: Marginal Revolution, Michael Clemens Tweets, New-Savanna.



  • The Love Revolution: The Decline in Arranged Marriages in Asia, the Middle East and Sub-Saharan Africa
    (available upon request)

    Abstract: Arranged marriages (AM) have existed in many societies throughout time, and they have acted as a mechanism that enables two families to enter into an informal contract that will provide benefits to their members; for example, create political alliances, ensure consumption smoothing, facilitate economic transactions, consolidate power, increase wealth, among others. In Europe, they disappeared towards the 12th century, remaining popular only among the wealthy class finally disappearing after the Industrial Revolution. In Asia and Africa they remained the most popular marriage institution until the middle of the 20th century. This paper documents a striking decline in AM and a raise in love marriages (LM) in Asia, the Middle East and Sub-Saharan Africa, showing the transition for 18 countries. This paper also documents several stylized facts by type of marriage, finding that women in AM tend to live in rural areas, have lower education, belong to agricultural and land-owning households, and are engaged in non-paid activities. In addition, it summarizes the main explanations found in the literature of Economics, Sociology and Anthropology for the existence of AM. Based on these potential explanations and using the patterns described, I suggest two hypotheses regarding the causes behind their decline: (i) a decrease in the value of informal insurance arrangements and (ii) an increase in the cost of informal insurance arrangements. I discuss several economic changes that could lead to either explanation. Finally, I analyze some potential welfare consequences of the transition, focusing on measures of domestic violence, finding that women in AM are more prone to suffer domestic abuse.


  • Peer Feedback and Teaching Performance: A Randomized Controlled Trial
    Joint with Carolina Mejia (World Bank) (available upon request)

    Abstract: Using a randomized controlled trial (RCT) study, we study whether trained peer feedback has a causal effect on the teaching performance of teaching assistants (TAs). The intervention was performed within the Economics Department of a large public university for one academic quarter (Fall 2012). The evaluation of the program consisted of the comparison of the Fall 2012 and the Winter 2013 TAs’ evaluations. The results show an increase of one half of a standard deviation in the TAs evaluations which represents 4.69% - 5.36% increase caused by the peer review project -both for the intent to treat (ITT) and the treatment on the treated (ToT)-. Detailed analysis of each component of the evaluations suggests that the results are indeed the response to the peer review program since the perceived knowledge of TAs was not affected, while perceived preparation, organization, interaction and communication responded positively. The program, however, did not deliver any result during the quarter that the experiment took place and the students’ raw grades were not affected suggesting that it takes time for the TAs to adjust their teaching practices.



Work in Progress

  • International migration, sex-ratio and bargaining power distortions in the home country: Evidence from Mexico

    Abstract: In this paper I exploit the predominantly male migration from Mexico to the United States to study the effects of gender biased migration on marriage markets. I focus on differences across municipalities and on changes through time on migration rates using the 1990, 2000 and 2010 Mexican Censuses. I first explore the effect of migration on sex ratio (number of men per women). For that purpose, I construct a matrix linking municipalities in Mexico to metropolitan areas in the USA in order to use USA local labor changes (wages and unemployment) as exogenous shocks to migration back in Mexico. Using these USA local labor changes as instrumental variables for migration rates, I show that regions with higher male migration have lower sex ratio. Using the Mexican Family Life Survey (MxFLS), I then estimate the effect of skewed sex ratio on female bargaining power at the household level. Results show a sizable decrease in female bargaining power in regions with higher male migration.



  • Are all good men gone? Male Migration and Female Labor Market Outcomes: Evidence from Mexico
    Joint with Edgar Cortes (Bank of Mexico)

    Abstract:This paper focuses on understanding the consequences of male migration on female labor market outcomes. In many regions around the world, migration from less developed to more developed countries is fundamentally a male phenomenon. In Mexico, for example, we have documented that, due to the high proportion of men in the migrant population, municipalities with higher migration rates have lower male/female ratios. Besides the effects on the marriage market, male migration might affect female's labor force participation and human capital accumulation depending of the substitutability of male and female labor. The goal of the project is to understand to what degree has the large migration of Mexicans to the United States affected the labor force participation and schooling of women in Mexico. The empirical strategy is based on constructing measures of shocks to the demand for migrant labor in the United States and using these to instrument male migration rates. The following step is to document the reduced form effect of male migration on: (i) female's entry into the labor force; (ii) wages; (iii) human capital accumulation; and (iv) finally, on the elasticity of substitution between men and women in these communities. The conclusions of this study can inform debates about the welfare implications of Mexico-US migration. To our knowledge, there is no empirical evidence on the channel we are studying.



  • Persistent Effects of the Cultivation System in the Dutch East Indies
    Joint with David Jacks (SFU)


  • Health and Anthropometric Consequences of Arranged Marriages: Evidence from South Asia
    Joint with Monica Jain (IFPRI)


  • Sleeping With The Enemy: Political Alliances Through Marital Arrangements


  • A Tale of Two Markets: General Equilibrium Effects in the presence of Love and Arranged Marriage Markets