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Causal effects of sex preference on sex-blind and sex-selective child avoidance and substitution across birth years: Evidence from the Japanese year of the fire horse

  • Rohlfs, Chris
  • Reed, Alexander
  • Yamada, Hiroyuki

This paper examines the effect of a short-term change in preference for male offspring on couples' childbearing and child-avoidance behaviors. We exploit a natural experiment in Japan in which girls born in a specific astrological year are regarded as less desirable. We relate this superstition to an economic model of child avoidance. We measure the relative importance of sex-selective and sex-blind child avoidance responses nationwide and across geographic areas and the degree of substitutability of children across birth years in Japan in 1846, 1906, and 1966, and we examine how these responses interacted with the economic and social development of Japan over this period.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Development Economics.

Volume (Year): 92 (2010)
Issue (Month): 1 (May)
Pages: 82-95

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Handle: RePEc:eee:deveco:v:92:y:2010:i:1:p:82-95
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  1. 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.
  2. Becker, Gary S & Tomes, Nigel, 1976. "Child Endowments and the Quantity and Quality of Children," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 84(4), pages S143-62, August.
  3. Hanley, Susan B., 1983. "A High Standard of Living in Nineteenth-Century Japan: Fact or Fantasy?," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 43(01), pages 183-192, March.
  4. Angrist, Joshua D & Evans, William N, 1998. "Children and Their Parents' Labor Supply: Evidence from Exogenous Variation in Family Size," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(3), pages 450-77, June.
  5. Lee, Jungmin, 2005. "Marriage, female labor supply, and Asian zodiacs," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 87(3), pages 427-432, June.
  6. Jungmin Lee & Myungho Paik, 2006. "Sex preferences and fertility in South Korea during the year of the horse," Demography, Springer, vol. 43(2), pages 269-292, May.
  7. Masanori Hashimoto, 1974. "Economics of Postwar Fertility in Japan: Differentials and Trends," NBER Chapters, in: Marriage, Family, Human Capital, and Fertility, pages 170-199 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Hashimoto, Masanori, 1974. "Economics of Postwar Fertility in Japan: Differentials and Trends," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(2), pages S170-S194, Part II, .
  9. Becker, Gary S & Lewis, H Gregg, 1973. "On the Interaction between the Quantity and Quality of Children," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 81(2), pages S279-88, Part II, .
  10. Rosenzweig, Mark R & Schultz, T Paul, 1982. "Market Opportunities, Genetic Endowments, and Intrafamily Resource Distribution: Child Survival in Rural India," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 72(4), pages 803-15, September.
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