Why does the sex ratio at birth rise? Evidence from Vietnam

39 Pages Posted: 27 Oct 2023

Date Written: September 24, 2023


This study connects Vietnam's elevated sex ratio at birth (SRB) to the 2001 US-Vietnam Bilateral Trade Agreement. Our model incorporates three major factors that influence SRB: income, relative returns based on the child's sex, and fertility. The model presents twelve predictions, which are tested using large-scale repeated cross-sectional and panel surveys in a difference-in-difference design. The results indicate that mothers who experience larger tariff reductions tend to have a stronger preference for sons, work more, and desire fewer children. These findings suggest that fertility is the main driver of the elevated SRB. Overall, this paper highlights the interplay between cultural norms, maternal income, childcare, and fertility, revealing the unexpected demographic impact of trade policies.

Keywords: Sex ratio at birth, Trade agreement, Vietnam

JEL Classification: O24, J13, J16, J22

Suggested Citation

Huynh, Nghiem and Nguyen, Ngoc, Why does the sex ratio at birth rise? Evidence from Vietnam (September 24, 2023). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4582123 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4582123

Nghiem Huynh (Contact Author)

Yale University ( email )

28 Hillhouse Ave
New Haven, CT 06520-8268
United States

HOME PAGE: http://nghiemhuynh.com/

Ngoc Nguyen

Lightcast ( email )

66 Long Wharf
Boston, MA 02110
United States

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