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Why is Son preference so persistent in East and South Asia? a cross-country study of China, India and the Republic of Korea

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  • Monica Das Gupta
  • Jiang Zhenghua
  • Li Bohua
  • Xie Zhenming
  • Woojin Chung
  • Bae Hwa-Ok

Abstract

Son preference has persisted in the face of sweeping economic and social changes in the countries studied here. We attribute this persistence to their similar family systems, which generate strong disincentives to raise daughters - whether or not their marriages require dowries - while valuing adult women's contributions to the household. Urbanisation, female education and employment can only slowly change these incentives without more direct efforts by the state and civil society to increase the flexibility of the kinship system such that daughters and sons can be perceived as being more equally valuable. Much can be done to accelerate this process through social movements, legislation and the mass media.

Suggested Citation

  • Monica Das Gupta & Jiang Zhenghua & Li Bohua & Xie Zhenming & Woojin Chung & Bae Hwa-Ok, 2003. "Why is Son preference so persistent in East and South Asia? a cross-country study of China, India and the Republic of Korea," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 40(2), pages 153-187.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:jdevst:v:40:y:2003:i:2:p:153-187 DOI: 10.1080/00220380412331293807
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    1. Das Gupta, Monica & Sunhwa Lee & Uberoi, Patricia & Danning Wang & Lihong Wang & Xiaodan Zhang, 2000. "State policies and women's autonomy in China, India, and the Republic of Korea, 1950-2000 : lessons from contrasting experiences," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2497, The World Bank.
    2. Das Gupta, Monica, 1999. "Lifeboat versus corporate ethic: social and demographic implications of stem and joint families," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 49(2), pages 173-184, July.
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