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Modernisation and Son Preference

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  • Robin Burgess
  • Juzhong Zhuang

Abstract

Gaps in welfare attainment between boys and girls in China have attracted international attention. In this paper demand analysis is used to try and uncover the factors which may be driving the emergence of the gender gaps. Drawing on household expenditure data from a poor (Sichuan) and rich (Jiangsu) Chinese province we are able to test for different types of gender bias in intra-household allocation. Spending on health is found to be biased against young girls in the poor but not in the rich province, whereas there is a bias in education spending against older girls in both provinces. These biases in household spending were found to correspond to gender biases in mortality and enrolment outcomes as revealed in census data for the same year. Split sample analysis reveals that poorer, less diversified households exhibit stronger biases against girls. Taken together, the results suggest that son preference in rural China is not driven solely by cultural factors pointing to a potential role for public policy.
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Suggested Citation

  • Robin Burgess & Juzhong Zhuang, 2000. "Modernisation and Son Preference," STICERD - Development Economics Papers - From 2008 this series has been superseded by Economic Organisation and Public Policy Discussion Papers 29, Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines, LSE.
  • Handle: RePEc:cep:stidep:29
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    File URL: http://sticerd.lse.ac.uk/dps/de/dedps29.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Thomas, D., 1991. "Gender differences in household resource allocations," Papers 79, World Bank - Living Standards Measurement.
    2. Gary S. Becker, 1981. "A Treatise on the Family," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number beck81-1, July.
    3. Deaton, A., 1988. "The Allocation Of Goods Within The Household," Papers 39, World Bank - Living Standards Measurement.
    4. Duncan Thomas, 1994. "Like Father, like Son; Like Mother, like Daughter: Parental Resources and Child Height," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 29(4), pages 950-988.
    5. Deaton, Angus S & Muellbauer, John, 1986. "On Measuring Child Costs: With Applications to Poor Countries," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(4), pages 720-744, August.
    6. Deaton, Angus S & Ruiz-Castillo, Javier & Thomas, Duncan, 1989. "The Influence of Household Composition on Household Expenditure Patterns: Theory and Spanish Evidence," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(1), pages 179-200, February.
    7. Subramanian, S. & Deaton, A., 1990. "Gender Effects In Indian Consumption Patterns," Papers 147, Princeton, Woodrow Wilson School - Development Studies.
    8. Chen, Shaohua & Ravallion, Martin, 1996. "Data in transition: Assessing rural living standards in Southern China," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 7(1), pages 23-56.
    9. Deaton, Angus S, 1989. "Looking for Boy-Girl Discrimination in Household Expenditure Data," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 3(1), pages 1-15, January.
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    Cited by:

    1. Rozana Himaz, 2008. "Intrahousehold Allocation of Education Expenditure and Returns to Education: The Case of Sri Lanka," Economics Series Working Papers 393, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
    2. Sun, Ang & Zhao, Yaohui, 2014. "Divorce, Abortion and Children's Sex Ratio: The Impact of Divorce Reform in China," IZA Discussion Papers 8230, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    3. Ming-Jen Lin & Nancy Qian & Jin-Tan Liu, 2008. "More Women Missing, Fewer Girls Dying: The Impact of Abortion on Sex Ratios at Birth and Excess Female Mortality in Taiwan," NBER Working Papers 14541, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Koohi-Kamali, Feridoon, 2008. "Intrahousehold inequality and child gender bias in Ethiopia," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4755, The World Bank.
    5. Sun, Ang & Zhao, Yaohui, 2016. "Divorce, abortion, and the child sex ratio: The impact of divorce reform in China," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 120(C), pages 53-69.
    6. Chakraborty, Tanika, 2012. "Impact of Industrialization on Relative Female Survival: Evidence from Trade Policies," IZA Discussion Papers 6647, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    7. 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.
    8. Ding, Weili & Zhang, Yuan, 2014. "When a son is born: The impact of fertility patterns on family finance in rural China," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 30(C), pages 192-208.
    9. Chakraborty, Tanika, 2015. "Trade Liberalization in a Traditional Society: Implications for Relative Female Survival," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 74(C), pages 158-170.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
    • D10 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - General
    • J78 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Discrimination - - - Public Policy (including comparable worth)
    • D11 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Theory
    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior
    • D60 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - General
    • J71 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Discrimination - - - Hiring and Firing
    • J18 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Public Policy

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