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Son Preference, Sex Selection and Economic Development: The Case of South Korea

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  • Lena Edlund
  • Chulhee Lee

Abstract

Sex ratios at birth in South Korea reached 116.5 boys per 100 girls in 1990, but have since declined. In 2007, sex ratios were almost normal, a development heralded as a sign that son preference and sex choice have vanished. However, normal sex ratios imply neither. We show that over the last 60 years, the relationship between sex ratios and parental status changed from negative to positive. This pattern, we argue, is consistent with a model where parents prefer sons and sex select – ultrasound and economic development accounting for the change in who chooses sons.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 18679.

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Date of creation: Jan 2013
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:18679

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  1. Das Gupta, Monica & Jiang Zhenghua & Li Bohua & Xie Zhenming & Woojin Chung & Bae Hwa-Ok, 2002. "Why is son preference so persistent in East and South Asia? a cross-country study of China, India, and the Republic of Korea," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2942, The World Bank.
  2. Woojin Chung & Monica Das Gupta, 2007. "The Decline of Son Preference in South Korea: The Roles of Development and Public Policy," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 33(4), pages 757-783.
  3. Lena Edlund & Evelyn Korn, 2002. "A Theory of Prostitution," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(1), pages 181-214, February.
  4. Jinyoung Kim, 2005. "Sex selection and fertility in a dynamic model of conception and abortion," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 18(1), pages 41-67, 01.
  5. Lena Edlund, 2005. "Sex and the City," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 107(1), pages 25-44, 03.
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