India's Missing Women: Disentangling Cultural, Political and Economic Variables
AbstractThe severe anti-female bias in natality and child mortality that gives rise to India's missing women has been widely documented and various explanations ranging from agricultural labor demand to dowries have been offered in the literature. In general, the low demand for girls has been interpreted as a rational response to economic constraints. This paper shows the importance of culture both in determining the value of girls and in shaping parental economic constraints. We find that conservative cultural attitudes, proxied by the electoral success of religious parties, are positively correlated with anti-female bias. Moreover, higher household expenditure is negatively correlated with the number of girls. This suggests that we cannot rely on rising income levels, brought about by economic growth, to improve the demographic disadvantage faced by Indian women. Our policy recommendations therefore focus on changing attitudes of son-preference that motivate anti-female bias as much as enforcement of gender-equality legislation.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by Center for Applied Economics and Policy Research, Economics Department, Indiana University Bloomington in its series Caepr Working Papers with number 2006-021.
Length: 34 pages
Date of creation: Dec 2006
Date of revision:
Female Disadvantage; Mortality; Son Preference; India;
Other versions of this item:
- Rubiana Chamarbagwala & Martin Ranger, 2006. "India’s Missing Women: Disentangling Cultural, Political and Economic Variables," Working Papers 2006-05, Indiana University, Kelley School of Business, Department of Business Economics and Public Policy.
- J11 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Demographic Trends, Macroeconomic Effects, and Forecasts
- J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
- O12 - Economic Development, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Microeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
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- Sajal Lahiri & Sharmistha Self, 2007. "Gender Bias in Education: the Role of Inter-household Externality, Dowry and other Social Institutions," Review of Development Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 11(4), pages 591-606, November.
- Raquel Fernandez & Alessandra Fogli & Claudia Olivetti, 2002.
"Marrying Your Mom: Preference Transmission and Women's Labor and Education Choices,"
NBER Working Papers
9234, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Fernández, Raquel & Fogli, Alessandra & Olivetti, Claudia, 2002. "Marrying Your Mom: Preference Transmission and Women's Labour and Education Choices," CEPR Discussion Papers 3592, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
- Monica Das Gupta, 2005. "Explaining Asia's "Missing Women": A New Look at the Data," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 31(3), pages 529-535.
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