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More Women Missing, Fewer Girls Dying: The Impact of Abortion on Sex Ratios at Birth and Excess Female Mortality in Taiwan

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  • Lin, Ming-Jen
  • Liu, Jin-Tan
  • Qian, Nancy

Abstract

Many countries with "deficits" in their female population see banning sex-selective abortion as a way to curb the observed sex imbalance without discussing potentially negative unintended consequences of this ban on female survival rates as parents may be forced to substitute post-natal for pre-natal sex-selection. This paper presents novel empirical evidence on the impact of access to abortion on sex ratios at birth and relative female infant mortality. We use the universe of birth and death registry data from Taiwan and exploit plausibly exogenous variation in the availability of sex-selective abortion caused by the legalization of abortions to identify the causal effects of sex-selective abortion on sex ratios at birth and excess female mortality. We find that sex-selective abortion increased the fraction of males at birth by approximately 0.7 percentage-points, accounting for approximately 100% of the observed increase in sex ratios at birth during the 1980s; and it decreased relative female neo-natal mortality by approximately 25%. We estimate that approximately 15 more female infants survived for every 100 aborted female fetuses.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 6667.

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Date of creation: Jan 2008
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:6667

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Keywords: Economics of Gender; Fertility;

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  1. Lena Edlund, 1999. "Son Preference, Sex Rations, and Marriage Patterns," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(6), pages 1275-1304, December.
  2. Nancy Qian, 2008. "Missing Women and the Price of Tea in China: The Effect of Sex-Specific Earnings on Sex Imbalance," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 123(3), pages 1251-1285, August.
  3. Jason Abrevaya, 2009. "Are There Missing Girls in the United States? Evidence from Birth Data," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 1(2), pages 1-34, April.
  4. Angrist, Joshua, 2001. "How Do Sex Ratios Affect Marriage and Labor Markets? Evidence from America's Second Generation," IZA Discussion Papers 368, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  5. Karen Norberg, 2004. "Partnership Status and the Human Sex Ratio at Birth," NBER Working Papers 10920, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. John Donohue & Steven Levitt, 2000. "The Impact of Legalized Abortion on Crime," NBER Working Papers 8004, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Shin-Yi Chou & Jin-Tan Liu & Michael Grossman & Theodore J. Joyce, 2007. "Parental Education and Child Health: Evidence from a Natural Experiment in Taiwan," NBER Working Papers 13466, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Thomas, D., 1995. "Like Father, Like Son, Like Mother, Like Daughter, Parental Resources and Child Height," Papers 95-01, RAND - Reprint Series.
  9. Robin Burgess & Juzhong Zhuang, 2000. "Modernisation and son preference," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 2115, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  10. Rosenzweig, Mark R & Schultz, T Paul, 1982. "Market Opportunities, Genetic Endowments, and Intrafamily Resource Distribution: Child Survival in Rural India," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 72(4), pages 803-15, September.
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Cited by:
  1. Claus C Pörtner, 2010. "Sex Selective Abortions, Fertility and Birth Spacing," Working Papers UWEC-2010-04-R, University of Washington, Department of Economics, revised Aug 2010.
  2. Esther Duflo, 2011. "Women’s Empowerment and Economic Development," NBER Working Papers 17702, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Jane Golley & Rod Tyers, 2012. "China's Gender Imbalance and its Economic Performance," Economics Discussion / Working Papers 12-10, The University of Western Australia, Department of Economics.
  4. Hu, Luojia & Schlosser, Analia, 2011. "Prenatal Sex Selection and Girls' Well-Being: Evidence from India," IZA Discussion Papers 5562, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

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