Means of Production and Male Offspring in the Chinese Post-Socialist Transition

71 Pages Posted: 24 Nov 2021

See all articles by Fangqi Wen

Fangqi Wen

Australian National University (ANU) - College of Asia and the Pacific

Hanzhi Hu

University of Oxford - Department of Sociology

Date Written: November 23, 2021

Abstract

Previous research has documented that in many dimensions gender equality has deteriorated in former socialist countries. In this study, we incorporate Engels’ private property-monogamy thesis and discussions in the market transition debate to examine the impact of economic privatization on patrilineal lineage in the Chinese post-socialist transition. Specifically, we investigate the effect of control over means of production on the probability of having male offspring. As family names are still largely inherited through male lines, the desire of passing wealth, especially means of production, from one generation to another within the family could lead to parents’ demand for a male heir. Thus, we hypothesize that, compared to employees, individuals controlling the means of production in a market economy are more likely to have at least one son. Using a nationally representative longitudinal dataset and exploiting variation in the timing of control over means of production, we provide empirical evidence for the hypothesis proposed. In addition, we show that the detected effect is driven only by men rather than women, which is consistent with the patrilineal inheritance story. While male private sector employers fulfill their desire for a son by having more births, farmers who obtained lands due to decollectivization not only have more children but also practice sex-selective abortions in higher-order births. Our findings explain why the sex ratio at birth has become increasingly skewed in post-socialist China. They also imply an unintended consequence of China’s economic reform— the revival of patrilineal lineage and son preference.

Keywords: Gender Inequality, Patrilineality, Son Preference, Sex Ratio, Market Transition, Post-Socialist Society, China

Suggested Citation

Wen, Fangqi and Hu, Hanzhi, Means of Production and Male Offspring in the Chinese Post-Socialist Transition (November 23, 2021). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3969659 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3969659

Fangqi Wen (Contact Author)

Australian National University (ANU) - College of Asia and the Pacific ( email )

Australia

Hanzhi Hu

University of Oxford - Department of Sociology ( email )

Manor Road
Manor Road
Oxford, OX1 3UQ
United Kingdom

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