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The "Missing Girls" of China and the Unintended Consequences of the One Child Policy

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  • Avraham Ebenstein

Abstract

High ratios of males to females in China have concerned researchers (Sen 1990, Yi et al. 1993) and the recent increase has alarmed policymakers worldwide. This paper presents an analysis of China’s census data that indicates that the "missing girls" phenomenon is causally linked to enforcement of the One Child Policy. Fertility is lower and sex ratios are higher among those under stricter fertility control, and the overall increase in the sex ratio is driven by an increase in the prevalence of sex selection among first and second births. By exploiting regional and temporal variation in fines levied for unauthorized births, I find that higher fine regimes discourage fertility, but are associated with higher ratios of males to females.

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  • Avraham Ebenstein, 2010. "The "Missing Girls" of China and the Unintended Consequences of the One Child Policy," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 45(1).
  • Handle: RePEc:uwp:jhriss:v:45:y:2010:i:1:p87-115
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    1. Charles Ka Yui Leung & Peiling Wei & Siu Kei Wong, 2006. "Are the Markets for Factories and Offices Integrated? Evidence from Hong Kong," International Real Estate Review, Asian Real Estate Society, pages 62-94.
    2. Ming-Jen Lin & Ming-Ching Luoh, 2008. "Can Hepatitis B Mothers Account for the Number of Missing Women? Evidence from Three Million Newborns in Taiwan," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, pages 2259-2273.
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