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Sex Ratios and Crime: Evidence from China’s One-Child Policy

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Author Info

  • Edlund, Lena

    ()
    (Columbia University)

  • Li, Hongbin

    ()
    (Tsinghua University)

  • Yi, Junjian

    ()
    (University of Chicago)

  • Zhang, Junsen

    ()
    (Chinese University of Hong Kong)

Abstract

Sex ratios (males to females) rose markedly in China in the last two decades, and crime rates nearly doubled. This paper examines whether the two are causally linked. High sex ratios imply fewer married men, and marriage has been conjectured to be a socializing force. Our paper exploits the quasi-natural experiment generated by the Chinese one-child policy, a policy which is widely held to be behind the surplus of sons. While a national policy, its implementation was local. We show that the provincial level implementation was unrelated to contemporaneous economic characteristics of the province. Instead, individual characteristics of the provincial party secretary influenced the timing. Moreover, leaders were systematically rotated such that 10 years on, leader characteristics were serially uncorrelated. Using annual province-level data for the period 1988-2004, we show that a 0.01 increase in the sex ratio raised violent and property crime rates by some 3%, suggesting that the rise in excess males may account for up to one-seventh of the overall rise in crime.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 3214.

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Length: 51 pages
Date of creation: Dec 2007
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp3214

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Related research

Keywords: one-child policy; crime; male-biased sex ratios; China;

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References

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  1. 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.
  2. Li, Hongbin & Zhang, Junsen & Zhu, Yi, 2007. "The Quantity-Quality Tradeoff of Children in a Developing Country: Identification Using Chinese Twins," IZA Discussion Papers 3012, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  3. Chiappori, Pierre-André & Fortin, Bernard & Lacroix, Guy, 2001. "Marriage Market, Divorce Legislation and Household Labor Supply," Cahiers de recherche 0103, Université Laval - Département d'économique.
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  5. Cristian Pop-Eleches, 2006. "The Impact of an Abortion Ban on Socioeconomic Outcomes of Children: Evidence from Romania," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 114(4), pages 744-773, August.
  6. Edward L. Glaeser & Bruce Sacerdote, 1996. "Why is There More Crime in Cities?," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1746, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  7. Lena Edlund, 2005. "Sex and the City," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 107(1), pages 25-44, 03.
  8. Robert J. Willis, 1999. "A Theory of Out-of-Wedlock Childbearing," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(S6), pages S33-S64, December.
  9. Dennis Tao Yang & Dandan Chen, 2004. "Transformations in China's population policies and demographic structure," Pacific Economic Review, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 9(3), pages 269-290, October.
  10. 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.
  11. Gary S. Becker, 1968. "Crime and Punishment: An Economic Approach," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 76, pages 169.
  12. Steven D. Levitt, 1997. "Juvenile Crime and Punishment," NBER Working Papers 6191, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Steven D. Levitt, 1995. "Using Electoral Cycles in Police Hiring to Estimate the Effect of Policeon Crime," NBER Working Papers 4991, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Zhang, Junsen, 1997. "The Effect of Welfare Programs on Criminal Behavior: A Theoretical and Empirical Analysis," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 35(1), pages 120-37, January.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Kang, Lili & Peng, Fei, 2012. "Siblings, public facilities and education returns in China," MPRA Paper 38922, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  2. Lakshmi Iyer & Anandi Mani & Prachi Mishra & Petia Topalova, 2012. "The Power of Political Voice: Women's Political Representation and Crime in India," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 4(4), pages 165-93, October.
  3. Nandi, Arindam & Deolalikar, Anil B., 2013. "Does a legal ban on sex-selective abortions improve child sex ratios? Evidence from a policy change in India," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 103(C), pages 216-228.
  4. Sheetal Sekhri & Adam Storeygard, 2013. "Dowry Deaths: Consumption Smoothing in Response to Climate Variability in India," Virginia Economics Online Papers 407, University of Virginia, Department of Economics.
  5. Michael Svarer, 2011. "Crime and partnerships," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 9(3), pages 307-325, September.
  6. 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.
  7. Shang-Jin Wei & Xiaobo Zhang, 2011. "Sex Ratios, Entrepreneurship, and Economic Growth in the People’s Republic of China," NBER Working Papers 16800, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Chang, Simon & Zhang, Xiaobo, 2012. "The Economic Consequences of Excess Men: Evidence from a Natural Experiment in Taiwan:," IFPRI discussion papers 1203, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
  9. Shang-Jin Wei & Xiaobo Zhang, 2009. "The Competitive Saving Motive: Evidence from Rising Sex Ratios and Savings Rates in China," NBER Working Papers 15093, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Zhang, Chuanchuan, 2011. "Children, support in old age and social insurance in rural China," MPRA Paper 37798, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  11. Hope Corman & Kelly Noonan & Nancy E. Reichman & Ofira Schwartz-Soicher, 2006. "Crime and Circumstance: The Effects of Infant Health Shocks on Fathers’ Criminal Activity," Working Papers 913, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Center for Research on Child Wellbeing..
  12. 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.
  13. Russell Smyth & Ingrid Nielsen & Qingguo Zhai, 2010. "Personal Well-being in Urban China," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 95(2), pages 231-251, January.
  14. repec:cge:warwcg:62 is not listed on IDEAS
  15. Nils-Petter Lagerlöf, 2010. "Pacifying monogamy," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 15(3), pages 235-262, September.

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