A Turning Point in Gender Bias in Mortality? An Update on the Number of 'Missing Women'
Munich Discussion Paper Series No. 01-13
29 Pages Posted: 16 Oct 2001
Date Written: October 1, 2001
Amartya Sen started an important debate about the magnitude of the female survival disadvantage in parts of the developing world by defining the term "missing women" and estimating its number. In this paper we provide an update on the number of missing women based on most recent demographic data. Our preferred estimate suggests that the number of missing women currently stands at about 106 million. This presents an absolute worsening, but a relative improvement, compared to earlier estimates. There are, however, great regional differences in these time trends. After significant improvements in Bangladesh and Pakistan, India now has the highest share of missing females. While the most important correlates of excess female mortality (in particular women's education and women's employment) have improved in most regions and contributed to the relative improvement, improved methods of discrimination against females have ensured that discrimination against young girls in particular is increasing in some regions. In this context, sex selective abortions appear to become a more important mechanism of gender bias in mortality in China and India.
Keywords: Missing Women, Gender Bias, Mortality, Developing Countries
JEL Classification: D63, J7, J16
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation