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The Curious Case of Son Preference and Household Income in Rural China

Author

Listed:
  • John Knight
  • Li Shi
  • Deng Quheng

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • John Knight & Li Shi & Deng Quheng, 2008. "The Curious Case of Son Preference and Household Income in Rural China," CSAE Working Paper Series 2008-03, Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford.
  • Handle: RePEc:csa:wpaper:2008-03
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    File URL: http://www.csae.ox.ac.uk/materials/papers/2008-03text.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Knight, John & Song, Lina, 2006. "Towards a Labour Market in China," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199215553.
    2. Lina Song, 2000. "Chapter 12. Gender Effects on Household Resource Allocation in Rural China," Chinese Economy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 33(4), pages 68-95, July.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    Keywords

    son preference; family planning; sex selection; household income; China;

    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
    • J71 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Discrimination - - - Hiring and Firing

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