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Missing Women: Some Recent Controversies on Levels and Trends in Gender Bias in Mortality




This paper discusses two recent controversies surrounding levels and trends in the number of ‘missing women’ in the world. First, the impact of fertility decline on gender bias in mortality is examined. Contrary to the expectations of some authors, fertility decline has not generally led to an intensification of gender bias in mortality. Second, the paper finds that the claim that a substantial portion of ‘missing women’ is due to higher sex ratios at birth linked to hepatitis B prevalence in the affected regions is on rather weak foundations, while there is substantial evidence countering this claim.

Suggested Citation

  • Stephan Klasen, 2008. "Missing Women: Some Recent Controversies on Levels and Trends in Gender Bias in Mortality," Ibero America Institute for Econ. Research (IAI) Discussion Papers 168, Ibero-America Institute for Economic Research.
  • Handle: RePEc:got:iaidps:168

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Monica Das Gupta, 2006. "Cultural versus Biological Factors in Explaining Asia's "Missing Women": Response to Oster," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 32(2), pages 328-332.
    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, vol. 98(5), pages 2259-2273, December.
    3. Klasen, Stephan, 1994. ""Missing women" reconsidered," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 22(7), pages 1061-1071, July.
    4. Monica Das Gupta, 2005. "Explaining Asia's "Missing Women": A New Look at the Data," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 31(3), pages 529-535.
    5. P. Bhat & A. Zavier, 2003. "Fertility decline and gender bias in," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 40(4), pages 637-657, November.
    6. Stephan Klasen & Claudia Wink, 2002. "A Turning Point in Gender Bias in Mortality? An Update on the Number of Missing Women," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 28(2), pages 285-312.
    7. Jean Drèze & Mamta Murthi, 2001. "Fertility, Education, and Development: Evidence from India," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 27(1), pages 33-63.
    8. Stephan Klasen & Claudia Wink, 2003. ""Missing Women": Revisiting The Debate," Feminist Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 9(2-3), pages 263-299.
    9. Dejian Lai, 2005. "Sex Ratio at Birth and Infant Mortality Rate in China: An Empirical Study," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 70(3), pages 313-326, February.
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    Cited by:

    1. Rodríguez, Laura, 2016. "Intrahousehold Inequalities in Child Rights and Well-Being. A Barrier to Progress?," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 83(C), pages 111-134.
    2. Alexander Stimpfle & David Stadelmann, 2016. "Does Central Europe Import the Missing Women Phenomenon?," CREMA Working Paper Series 2016-04, Center for Research in Economics, Management and the Arts (CREMA).

    More about this item


    Missing women; fertility decline; Hepatitis B; sex-selective abortions; gender bias in mortality;

    JEL classification:

    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration

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