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Son Preference, Sex Selection and Economic Development: Theory and Evidence from South Korea

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  • Lena Edlund

    ()
    (Columbia University - Department of Economics)

  • Chulhee Lee

    ()
    (Seoul National University - Department of Economics)

Abstract

Motivated by high and rising sex ratios in countries such as India and China, we formulate a theoretical framework for analyzing the impact of economic development on parental sex choice when sons are culturally prized and children provide old age support. Two key assumptions drive our model. First, the cultural valuation of children vary not only with gender but also with marital status. In particular, while a married son is preferred to a married daughter, the latter is preferred to an unmarried son. Second, we assume that faced with a shortage of brides, poor parents will have a harder time marrying their sons than rich parents. Our model predicts male sex ratios at low levels of development, where the surplus sons are chosen by the poorest who forego grand-children for old age support. With development, incomes and the bride price rise, allowing the poorest reproductive children. Consequently, sex ratios fall, and the relationship between parental income and offspring maleness turns positive. We also present corroborative evidence from South Korea, a now developed country which shares with India and China a strong patriarchal culture and a recent past of poverty.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Columbia University, Department of Economics in its series Discussion Papers with number 0910-04.

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Date of creation: 2009
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Handle: RePEc:clu:wpaper:0910-04

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Blog mentions

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  1. Sex choice and poverty
    by Economic Logician in Economic Logic on 2009-12-24 15:08:00
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Cited by:
  1. Esther Duflo, 2011. "Women’s Empowerment and Economic Development," NBER Working Papers 17702, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Doepke, Matthias & Tertilt, Michèle & Voena, Alessandra, 2011. "The Economics and Politics of Women’s Rights," Working Papers 11-3, University of Mannheim, Department of Economics.
  3. Shang-Jin Wei & Xiaobo Zhang & Yin Liu, 2012. "Status Competition and Housing Prices," NBER Working Papers 18000, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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