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Does the marriage market sex ratio affect parental sex selection? Evidence from the Chinese census

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  • Xing Li

    (Nanjing University of Finance and Economics)

  • M. W. Luke Chan

    (McMaster University)

  • Byron G. Spencer

    (McMaster University)

  • Wei Yang

    () (University of North Dakota)

Abstract

Abstract Recent increases in the (male/female) sex ratio at birth in eastern Asia are thought to be associated with a preference for sons and to result from parental sex selection. However, males are less likely to marry and to have offspring as the ratio increases, and that decreases the expected number of grandchildren. Using data from the 2000 Chinese census, we test whether the sex ratio in the marriage market has an effect on the gender of subsequent births and hence on the sex ratio of the birth cohort. The slow population growth caused by the Great Famine in the early 1960s and the quick recovery that followed produced major changes in the sex ratio for those of marriageable age two decades later. We estimate that an increase of 1 % in the number of marriageable males relative to females, the marriage market sex ratio, would decrease the probability of having a son by 0.02 percentage points. That implies that the Great Famine, which occurred around 1960, led to an increase in the early 1980s of 5.8 extra male births per 100 females.

Suggested Citation

  • Xing Li & M. W. Luke Chan & Byron G. Spencer & Wei Yang, 2016. "Does the marriage market sex ratio affect parental sex selection? Evidence from the Chinese census," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 29(4), pages 1063-1082, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:jopoec:v:29:y:2016:i:4:d:10.1007_s00148-016-0599-7 DOI: 10.1007/s00148-016-0599-7
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Yao, Yuxin, 2017. "Essays on Economics of Language and Family Economics," Other publications TiSEM 0093bc8e-e869-4f87-8ff8-8, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Parental sex selection; Marriage squeeze; Marriage market sex ratio; Missing women;

    JEL classification:

    • J11 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Demographic Trends, Macroeconomic Effects, and Forecasts
    • J12 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Marriage; Marital Dissolution; Family Structure
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth

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