India's Missing Girls: Biology, Customs, and Economic Development

Posted: 25 Jun 2008

See all articles by Bishnupriya Gupta

Bishnupriya Gupta

University of Warwick - Department of Economics

Abstract

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

Suggested Citation

Gupta, Bishnupriya, India's Missing Girls: Biology, Customs, and Economic Development. Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Vol. 23, No. 2, pp. 221-238, 2007, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1151128 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/oxrep/grm016

Bishnupriya Gupta

University of Warwick - Department of Economics ( email )

Coventry CV4 7AL
United Kingdom

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