The Curious Case of Son Preference and Household Income in Rural China
Why is it that couples who have a son or whose last child is a son earn higher conditional income?� To solve this curious case we tell a detective story: evidence of a phenomenon to be explained, a parade of suspects, a process of elimination from the enquiry, and then the denouement.� Given the draconian family planning policy and a common perception that there is strong son preference in rural China, we postulate two main hypotheses: income-based sex selection making it more likely that richer households have sons, and an incentive for households with sons to raise their income.� Tests of each hypothesis are conducted.� The evidence is inconsistent with the sex selection hypothesis but the incentive hypothesis cannot be rejected; and there is evidence in support of the channels through which the incentive effect might operate.� To our knowledge, this is the first study to test these hypotheses in rural China and more generally in developing countries.
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