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Women's Wellbeing and the Sex Ratio at Birth: Some Suggestive Evidence from India


  • Dhairiyarayar Jayaraj
  • Sreenivasan Subramanian


A declining sex ratio (SR) for a population has generally been diagnosed as an indicator of worsening female advantage, while a declining sex ratio at birth (SRB) - such as in the context of the Indian population over the recent past - has been diagnosed as being caused largely by the phenomenon of sex-selective foeticide. In this article, we examine the merits of a less sinister hypothesis in terms of which a secular improvement in women's wellbeing has led to a sex-neutral reduction in the rate of foetal wastage, and through that route, to a reduction in the SRB (and therefore in the overall SR of the population). We seek support for this hypothesis by examining evidence from India. We also discuss the implications of this line of reasoning for women's wellbeing, development and the significance of a declining sex ratio.

Suggested Citation

  • Dhairiyarayar Jayaraj & Sreenivasan Subramanian, 2004. "Women's Wellbeing and the Sex Ratio at Birth: Some Suggestive Evidence from India," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 40(5), pages 91-119.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:jdevst:v:40:y:2004:i:5:p:91-119
    DOI: 10.1080/0022038042000218152

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    Cited by:

    1. Nandi, Arindam & Deolalikar, Anil B., 2013. "Does a legal ban on sex-selective abortions improve child sex ratios? Evidence from a policy change in India," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 103(C), pages 216-228.
    2. D. Jayaraj, 2009. "Exploring The Importance Of Excess Female Mortality And Discrimination In "Natality" In Explaining The "Lowness" Of The Sex Ratio In India," The Developing Economies, Institute of Developing Economies, vol. 47(2), pages 177-201.
    3. Siwan Anderson & Debraj Ray, 2012. "The Age Distribution of Missing Women in India," Working Papers id:4842, eSocialSciences.

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