More Women Missing, Fewer Girls Dying: The Impact of Abortion on Sex Ratios at Birth and Excess Female Mortality in Taiwan

40 Pages Posted: 9 Jun 2008

See all articles by Ming-Jen Lin

Ming-Jen Lin

National Taiwan University - Department of Economics

Jin‐Tan Liu

National Taiwan University - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Nancy Qian

Yale University - Department of Economics

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: January 2008

Abstract

Many countries with "deficits" in their female population see banning sex-selective abortion as a way to curb the observed sex imbalance without discussing potentially negative unintended consequences of this ban on female survival rates as parents may be forced to substitute post-natal for pre-natal sex-selection. This paper presents novel empirical evidence on the impact of access to abortion on sex ratios at birth and relative female infant mortality. We use the universe of birth and death registry data from Taiwan and exploit plausibly exogenous variation in the availability of sex-selective abortion caused by the legalization of abortions to identify the causal effects of sex-selective abortion on sex ratios at birth and excess female mortality. We find that sex-selective abortion increased the fraction of males at birth by approximately 0.7 percentage-points, accounting for approximately 100% of the observed increase in sex ratios at birth during the 1980s; and it decreased relative female neo-natal mortality by approximately 25%. We estimate that approximately 15 more female infants survived for every 100 aborted female fetuses.

Keywords: Economics of Gender, Fertility

JEL Classification: J13, J16

Suggested Citation

Lin, Ming-Jen and Liu, Jin-Tan and Qian, Nancy, More Women Missing, Fewer Girls Dying: The Impact of Abortion on Sex Ratios at Birth and Excess Female Mortality in Taiwan (January 2008). CEPR Discussion Paper No. DP6667, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1140949

Ming-Jen Lin (Contact Author)

National Taiwan University - Department of Economics ( email )

21 Hsiu Chow Rd
Taipei, 10020
Taiwan

Jin-Tan Liu

National Taiwan University - Department of Economics ( email )

21 Hsu-Chow Road
Taipei, 10020
Taiwan

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Nancy Qian

Yale University - Department of Economics ( email )

28 Hillhouse Ave
New Haven, CT 06520-8268
United States

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