IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Deadly anchor: Gender bias under Russian colonization of Kazakhstan


  • Aldashev, Gani
  • Guirkinger, Catherine


We study the impact of a large-scale economic crisis on gender equality, using historical data from Kazakhstan in the late 19th–early 20th century. We focus on sex ratios (number of women per man) in Kazakh population between 1898 and 1908, in the midst of large-scale Russian in-migration into Kazakhstan that caused a sharp exogenous increase in land pressure. The resulting severe economic crisis made the nomadic organization of the Kazakh economy unsustainable and forced most Kazakh households into sedentary agriculture. Using a large novel dataset constructed from Russian colonial expedition materials, we document a low and worsening sex ratio (in particular, among poor households) between 1898 and 1908. The theoretical hypothesis that garners most support is that of excess female mortality in poorer households (especially among adults), driven by gender discrimination under the increasing pressure for scarce food resources.

Suggested Citation

  • Aldashev, Gani & Guirkinger, Catherine, 2012. "Deadly anchor: Gender bias under Russian colonization of Kazakhstan," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 49(4), pages 399-422.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:exehis:v:49:y:2012:i:4:p:399-422 DOI: 10.1016/j.eeh.2012.07.006

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

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

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Maristella Botticini & Aloysius Siow, 2003. "Why Dowries?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(4), pages 1385-1398, September.
    2. Edvinsson, Sören & Lindkvist, Marie, 2011. "Wealth and health in 19th Century Sweden. A study of social differences in adult mortality in the Sundsvall region," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 48(3), pages 376-388, July.
    3. Mokyr, Joel & Gr Da, Cormac, 2002. "What do people die of during famines: the Great Irish Famine in comparative perspective," European Review of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 6(03), pages 339-363, December.
    4. Nancy Qian, 2008. "Missing Women and the Price of Tea in China: The Effect of Sex-Specific Earnings on Sex Imbalance," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 123(3), pages 1251-1285.
    5. Humphries, Jane, 1991. "'Bread and a Pennyworth of Treacle': Excess Female Mortality in England in the 1840s," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 15(4), pages 451-473, December.
    6. V. Bhaskar & Bishnupriya Gupta, 2007. "India's missing girls: biology, customs, and economic development," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 23(2), pages 221-238, Summer.
    7. David I. Levine & Minnie Ames, 2003. "Gender Bias and The Indonesian Financial Crisis: Were Girls Hit Hardest?," Development and Comp Systems 0303001, EconWPA.
    8. Elaina Rose, 1999. "Consumption Smoothing and Excess Female Mortality in Rural India," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 81(1), pages 41-49, February.
    9. Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1976. "The Efficiency Wage Hypothesis, Surplus Labour, and the Distribution of Income in L.D.C.s," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 28(2), pages 185-207, July.
    10. Wright, Gavin & Kunreuther, Howard, 1975. "Cotton, Corn and Risk in the Nineteenth Century," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 35(03), pages 526-551, September.
    11. Klasen, Stephan, 1998. "Marriage, Bargaining, and Intrahousehold Resource Allocation: Excess Female Mortality among Adults during Early German Development, 1740–1860," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 58(02), pages 432-467, June.
    12. Horrell, Sara & Meredith, David & Oxley, Deborah, 2009. "Measuring misery: Body mass, ageing and gender inequality in Victorian London," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 46(1), pages 93-119, January.
    13. George Judge & Laura Schechter, 2009. "Detecting Problems in Survey Data Using Benford’s Law," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 44(1).
    14. Stephan Klasen & Claudia Wink, 2002. "A Turning Point in Gender Bias in Mortality? An Update on the Number of Missing Women," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 28(2), pages 285-312.
    15. Bhalotra, Sonia, 2010. "Fatal fluctuations? Cyclicality in infant mortality in India," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(1), pages 7-19, September.
    16. Paul Gertler & David I. Levine & Minnie Ames, 2004. "Schooling and Parental Death," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 86(1), pages 211-225, February.
    17. Papke, Leslie E & Wooldridge, Jeffrey M, 1996. "Econometric Methods for Fractional Response Variables with an Application to 401(K) Plan Participation Rates," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 11(6), pages 619-632, Nov.-Dec..
    18. Jere R. Behrman & Anil B. Deolalikar, 1990. "The Intrahousehold Demand for Nutrients in Rural South India: Individual Estimates, Fixed Effects, and Permanent Income," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 25(4), pages 665-696.
    19. Baten, Jorg & Murray, John E., 2000. "Heights of Men and Women in 19th-Century Bavaria: Economic, Nutritional, and Disease Influences," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 37(4), pages 351-369, October.
    20. Siwan Anderson & Debraj Ray, 2010. "Missing Women: Age and Disease," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 77(4), pages 1262-1300.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Gani Aldashev & Catherine Guirkinger, 2016. "Colonization and Changing Social Structure: Kazakhstan 1896-1910," Working Papers ECARES ECARES 2016-10, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
    2. repec:eee:deveco:v:127:y:2017:i:c:p:413-430 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Alexander Stimpfle & David Stadelmann, 2016. "Does Central Europe Import the Missing Women Phenomenon?," CREMA Working Paper Series 2016-04, Center for Research in Economics, Management and the Arts (CREMA).

    More about this item


    Gender bias; Sex ratio; Excess female mortality; Nomadism; Kazakhstan;

    JEL classification:

    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration
    • I10 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - General
    • Q56 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environment and Development; Environment and Trade; Sustainability; Environmental Accounts and Accounting; Environmental Equity; Population Growth


    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:eee:exehis:v:49:y:2012:i:4:p:399-422. 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: (Dana Niculescu). 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.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with 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.