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More Women Missing, Fewer Girls Dying: The Impact of Abortion on Sex Ratios at Birth and Excess Female Mortality in Taiwan

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  • Lin, Ming-Jen
  • Liu, Jin-Tan
  • Qian, Nancy

Abstract

Many countries with "deficits" in their female population see banning sex-selective abortion as a way to curb the observed sex imbalance without discussing potentially negative unintended consequences of this ban on female survival rates as parents may be forced to substitute post-natal for pre-natal sex-selection. This paper presents novel empirical evidence on the impact of access to abortion on sex ratios at birth and relative female infant mortality. We use the universe of birth and death registry data from Taiwan and exploit plausibly exogenous variation in the availability of sex-selective abortion caused by the legalization of abortions to identify the causal effects of sex-selective abortion on sex ratios at birth and excess female mortality. We find that sex-selective abortion increased the fraction of males at birth by approximately 0.7 percentage-points, accounting for approximately 100% of the observed increase in sex ratios at birth during the 1980s; and it decreased relative female neo-natal mortality by approximately 25%. We estimate that approximately 15 more female infants survived for every 100 aborted female fetuses.

Suggested Citation

  • Lin, Ming-Jen & Liu, Jin-Tan & Qian, Nancy, 2008. "More Women Missing, Fewer Girls Dying: The Impact of Abortion on Sex Ratios at Birth and Excess Female Mortality in Taiwan," CEPR Discussion Papers 6667, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:6667
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Valente, Christine, 2014. "Access to abortion, investments in neonatal health, and sex-selection: Evidence from Nepal," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 107(C), pages 225-243.
    2. Claus C Pörtner, 2010. "Sex Selective Abortions, Fertility and Birth Spacing," Working Papers UWEC-2010-04-R, University of Washington, Department of Economics, revised Aug 2010.
    3. Esther Duflo, 2012. "Women Empowerment and Economic Development," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 50(4), pages 1051-1079, December.
    4. Avraham Ebenstein, 2011. "Estimating a Dynamic Model of Sex Selection in China," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 48(2), pages 783-811, May.
    5. Luojia Hu & Analía Schlosser, 2015. "Prenatal Sex Selection and Girls’ Well‐Being: Evidence from India," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 125(587), pages 1227-1261, September.
    6. Libertad González, 2016. "Sex Selection and Health at Birth among Indian Immigrants," Working Papers 886, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
    7. Portner, Claus C, 2015. "Sex-selective abortions, fertility, and birth spacing," Policy Research Working Paper Series 7189, The World Bank.
    8. Yuyu Chen & Hongbin Li & Lingsheng Meng, 2013. "Prenatal Sex Selection and Missing Girls in China: Evidence from the Diffusion of Diagnostic Ultrasound," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 48(1), pages 36-70.
    9. S. Anukriti, 2013. "The Fertility-Sex Ratio Tradeoff: Unintended Consequences of Financial Incentives," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 827, Boston College Department of Economics.
    10. Jane Golley & Rod Tyers, 2012. "China's Gender Imbalance and its Economic Performance," Economics Discussion / Working Papers 12-10, The University of Western Australia, Department of Economics.
    11. Anukriti, S & Kumler, Todd J., 2014. "Tariffs, Social Status, and Gender in India," IZA Discussion Papers 7969, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Economics of Gender; Fertility;

    JEL classification:

    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination

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