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Women's Inheritance Rights Reform and the Preference for Sons in India

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  • Bhalotra, Sonia R.

    () (University of Essex)

  • Brulé, Rachel

    (New York University, Abu Dhabi)

  • Roy, Sanchari

    () (King's College London)

Abstract

We investigate whether legislation of equal inheritance rights for women modifies the historic preference for sons in India, and find that it exacerbates it. Children born after the reform in families with a first-born daughter are 3.8–4.3 percentage points less likely to be girls, indicating that the reform encouraged female foeticide. We also find that the reform increased excess female infant mortality and son-biased fertility stopping. This suggests that the inheritance reform raised the costs of having daughters, consistent with which we document an increase in stated son preference in fertility post-reform. We conclude that this is a case where legal reform was frustrated by persistence of cultural norms. We provide some suggestive evidence of slowly changing patrilocality norms.

Suggested Citation

  • Bhalotra, Sonia R. & Brulé, Rachel & Roy, Sanchari, 2017. "Women's Inheritance Rights Reform and the Preference for Sons in India," IZA Discussion Papers 11239, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp11239
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    Cited by:

    1. Bhalotra, Sonia R. & Clots-Figueras, Irma & Iyer, Lakshmi, 2018. "Religion and Abortion: The Role of Politician Identity," IZA Discussion Papers 11292, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    2. Alberto Posso & Stephen C. Smith & Lucia Ferrone & UNICEF Office of Research - Innocenti, 2019. "Do constraints on women worsen child deprivations? Framework, measurement, and evidence from India," Papers inwopa1045, Innocenti Working Papers.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    sex selection; female foeticide; ultrasound; inheritance rights; son preference; gender; India;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • O12 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Microeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
    • K11 - Law and Economics - - Basic Areas of Law - - - Property Law
    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education

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