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Why are adult women missing ? son preference and maternal survival in India

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  • Milazzo, Annamaria

Abstract

This paper is the first to show that excess mortality among adult women can be partly explained by strong preference for male children, the same cultural norm widely known to cause excess mortality before birth or at young ages. Using pooled individual-level data for India, the paper compares the age structure and anemia status of women by the sex of their first-born and uncovers several new findings. First, the share of living women with a first-born girl is a decreasing function of the women's age at the time of the survey. Second, while there are no systematic differences at the time of birth, women with a first-born girl are significantly more likely to develop anemia when young (under the age of 30) and these differences disappear for older women. Moreover, among those in the older age group, they appear to be significantly better off in terms of various predetermined characteristics. These findings are consistent with a selection effect in which maternal and adult mortality is higher for women with first-born girls, especially the poor and uneducated with limited access to health care and prenatal sex diagnostic technologies. To ensure the desired sex composition of children, these women resort to a fertility behavior medically known to increase their risk of death. The observed sex ratios for first births imply that 2.2-8.4 percent of women with first-born girls are'missing'because of son preference between the ages of 30 and 49.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 6802.

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Date of creation: 01 Mar 2014
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Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:6802

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Related research

Keywords: Population Policies; Gender and Health; Adolescent Health; Gender and Law; Gender and Development;

References

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  1. Akbulut-Yuksel, Mevlude & Rosenblum, Daniel, 2012. "The Indian Ultrasound Paradox," IZA Discussion Papers 6273, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  2. Seema Jayachandran & Ilyana Kuziemko, 2009. "Why Do Mothers Breastfeed Girls Less Than Boys? Evidence and Implications for Child Health in India," NBER Working Papers 15041, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  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. Siwan Anderson & Debraj Ray, 2010. "Missing Women: Age and Disease," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 77(4), pages 1262-1300.
  5. Deon Filmer & Jed Friedman & Norbert Schady, 2009. "Development, Modernization, and Childbearing: The Role of Family Sex Composition," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 23(3), pages 371-398, October.
  6. Jean Drèze & Mamta Murthi, 2001. "Fertility, Education, and Development: Evidence from India," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 27(1), pages 33-63.
  7. Shelley Clark, 2000. "Son preference and sex composition of children: Evidence from india," Demography, Springer, vol. 37(1), pages 95-108, February.
  8. Waldron, Ingrid, 1983. "Sex differences in human mortality: The role of genetic factors," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 17(6), pages 321-333, January.
  9. Silvia Helena Barcellos & Leandro S. Carvalho & Adriana Lleras-Muney, 2014. "Child Gender and Parental Investments in India: Are Boys and Girls Treated Differently?," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 6(1), pages 157-89, January.
  10. Luojia Hu & Analía Schlosser, 2010. "Prenatal sex selection and girls’ well-being? evidence from India," Working Paper Series WP-2010-11, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  11. Daniel Rosenblum, 2013. "The effect of fertility decisions on excess female mortality in India," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 26(1), pages 147-180, January.
  12. Stephan Klasen & Sebastian Vollmer, 2013. "Missing Women: Age and Disease: A Correction," Courant Research Centre: Poverty, Equity and Growth - Discussion Papers 133, Courant Research Centre PEG.
  13. Prashant Bharadwaj & Leah K. Lakdawala, 2013. "Discrimination Begins in the Womb: Evidence of Sex-Selective Prenatal Investments," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 48(1), pages 71-113.
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Cited by:
  1. Sylvie Lambert & Pauline Rossi, 2014. "Sons as Widowhood Insurance: Evidence from Senegal," PSE Working Papers halshs-00948098, HAL.

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