Prenatal Sex Selection and Girls’ Well‐Being: Evidence from India

60 Pages Posted: 22 Nov 2010 Last revised: 2 Jan 2011

Luojia Hu

Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago

Analia Schlosser

Tel Aviv University - Eitan Berglas School of Economics

Date Written: November 30, 2010

Abstract

The paper studies the impact of prenatal sex selection on the well‐being of girls by analyzing changes in children’s nutritional status and mortality during the years since the diffusion of prenatal sex determination technologies in India. We use the ratio of male to female births in the year and state in which a child was born as a proxy for parental access to prenatal sex‐selection. Using repeated cross‐sections from a rich survey dataset, we show that high sex ratios at birth reflect the practice of sex‐selective abortion. We then exploit the large regional and time variations in the incidence of prenatal sex selection to analyze whether changes in girls’ outcomes relative to boys within states and over time are associated with changes in sex‐ratios at birth. We find that an increase in the practice of prenatal sex selection appears to be associated with a reduction in the incidence of malnutrition among girls. The negative association is stronger for girls born in rural households and at higher birth parities. We find no evidence that prenatal sex selection leads to a selection of girls into families of higher SES, however we do find some evidence of a larger reduction in family size for girls relative to boys. We also find some suggestive evidence of better treatment of girls as reflected in breastfeeding duration. On the other hand, prenatal sex selection does not appear to be associated with a reduction in excess female child mortality.

Keywords: Son Preference, Prenatal Sex Selection, sex Ratio at Birth, Gender Discrimination, Child Health

JEL Classification: J13, J16, I1

Suggested Citation

Hu, Luojia and Schlosser, Analia, Prenatal Sex Selection and Girls’ Well‐Being: Evidence from India (November 30, 2010). FRB of Chicago Working Paper No. 2010-11. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1713326 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1713326

Luojia Hu (Contact Author)

Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago ( email )

230 South LaSalle Street
Chicago, IL 60604
United States

Analia Schlosser

Tel Aviv University - Eitan Berglas School of Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 39040
Ramat Aviv, Tel Aviv, 69978
Israel

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