With more than 120 boys born for every 100 girls in China, parents of boys know that their sons will face a competitive marriage market. Shang-Jin Wei of Columbia and Xiaobo Zhang of the International Food Policy Research Institute argue that this accounts for a substantial portion of the high savings rate in China, as parents anticiipate that wealthier sons will marry more successfully, and that this spills over to the general economy:
The Competitive Saving Motive: Evidence from Rising Sex Ratios and Savings Rates in China
NBER Working Paper No. 15093 June 2009
Abstract: While the high savings rate in China has global impact, existing explanations are incomplete. This paper proposes a competitive saving motive as a new explanation: as the country experiences a rising sex ratio imbalance, the increased competition in the marriage market has induced the Chinese, especially parents with a son, to postpone consumption in favor of wealth accumulation. The pressure on savings spills over to other households through higher costs of house purchases. Both cross-regional and household-level evidence supports this hypothesis. This factor can potentially account for about half of the actual increase in the household savings rate during 1990-2007.
And here's a summary by Wei at VOX: The mystery of Chinese savings
In the meantime, there's a shortage of boys on many American college campuses: this NY Times report suggests that this has changed the dating equilibrium in ways that concern not only savings behavior, but also sex . (The story doesn't explicitly mention savings behavior, the Times is a family newspaper): The New Math on Campus