Greco-Roman Sex Ratios and Femicide in Comparative Perspective

12 Pages Posted: 14 Nov 2009 Last revised: 20 May 2014

Date Written: April 1, 2010


Is it possible to demonstrate that ancient Greeks or Romans disposed of newborn daughters in ways that skewed sex ratios in favor of males? Epigraphic, papyrological, and archaeological evidence fails to provide reliable empirical support for this notion. At the same time, we cannot rule out the possibility that femicide did in fact occur. Drawing on comparative anthropological and historical evidence, this paper briefly develops two models of femicidal practice.

Keywords: Sex ratio, Infanticide, Femicide

JEL Classification: J13, J16

Suggested Citation

Scheidel, Walter, Greco-Roman Sex Ratios and Femicide in Comparative Perspective (April 1, 2010). Available at SSRN: or

Walter Scheidel (Contact Author)

Stanford University ( email )

Stanford, CA 94305-2145
United States

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