IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Explaining Asia's "Missing Women": A New Look at the Data


  • Monica Das Gupta


The fact that millions of females are "missing" in East Asia and South Asia has been attributed to cultural factors that support strong son preference in these countries. A widely disseminated paper by Emily Oster argues that a large part of this phenomenon can be attributed to excessively masculine sex ratios at birth resulting from maternal infection with hepatitis B. If her thesis is true, current policies to address this problem would need to be reframed to include biological factors in addition to cultural factors. The data show, however, that whether or not females "go missing" is determined by the existing sex composition of the family into which they are conceived. Girls with no older sisters have similar chances of survival as boys. However, girls conceived in families that already have a daughter experience steeply higher probabilities of being aborted or of dying in early childhood. This indicates that cultural factors still provide the overwhelming explanation for the "missing" females. Copyright 2005 The Population Council, Inc..

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:popdev:v:31:y:2005:i:3:p:529-535

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    File Function: link to full text
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Richard B. Freeman, 1994. "Working Under Different Rules," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number free94-1, January.
    2. Putnam, Judith Jones & Allshouse, Jane E., 1997. "Food Consumption, Prices, and Expenditures, 1970-95," Statistical Bulletin 154919, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:bla:popdev:v:31:y:2005:i:3:p:529-535. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Wiley-Blackwell Digital Licensing) or (Christopher F. Baum). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.