China’s missing girls

China has more boy babies, compared to girls, than would be expected from the usual biological sex ratio. Monica Das Gupta has written a quick summary of her research explaining why she attributes this to preference to sons (resulting in differential rates of abortion and, possibly, infanticide, by sex).



Link from Marshall Jevons, also some earlier discussion by me here in the context of Emily Oster, an economist who’s looked at this problem from a different perspective. Oster attributes the sex ratio to hepatitis infections but that doesn’t seem so plausible given this graph from Das Gupta:


P.S. There’s an interesting history underlying Oster’s claims and their refutations; see this post by Stephan Klasen.

1 thought on “China’s missing girls

  1. "It seems to be an ancient wisdom that wars do not only increase fertility but also the proportion of male births. The existence of post-war baby booms is so obvious, that a positive effect of wars with high death tolls on fertility is beyond reasonable doubt." …

    "In order to explain high male to female ratios at birth in China and other regions, it is not necessary to invoke widespread sex-selective abortion and infanticide. It is enough to assume that the sex ratio of a country tends to remain unchanged. Then 'the missing girls' are simply the counterpart of the 'feminization of the elderly population', and the fact that globally less girls than boys are born, primarily results from the higher life expectancy of women."

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