India's Missing Girls: Biology, Customs, and Economic Development
Posted: 25 Jun 2008
We review the evidence on the sex ratio among children below the age of six. International evidence shows that the sex ratio at birth is slightly biased towards boys, but boys suffer greater mortality, a pattern consistent with Darwinian evolution. With economic development, the male bias in the child sex ratio increases. South and East India show levels and trends in the child sex ratio that are consistent with this evidence. However, unbalanced sex ratios in the northern and western states since the first censuses indicate discrimination against girls. Technological developments permitting sex-selective abortions have seriously aggravated the imbalances in these states. Economic modelling of parental choice regarding a child's gender suggests that gender imbalances may be consistent with individual maximization and marriage-market equilibrium. Nevertheless, these choices have adverse welfare consequences, which will be aggravated by the decline in population growth and consequent relaxation of the marriage squeeze .
Keywords: child sex ratio, gender discrimination, selective abortions, marriage markets
JEL Classification: J12, J13, J16
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