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Sex Ratios and Crime: Evidence from China’s One-Child Policy

Author

Listed:
  • Edlund, Lena

    () (Columbia University)

  • Li, Hongbin

    () (Stanford University)

  • Yi, Junjian

    () (National University of Singapore)

  • Zhang, Junsen

    () (Chinese University of Hong Kong)

Abstract

Sex ratios (males to females) rose markedly in China in the last two decades, and crime rates nearly doubled. This paper examines whether the two are causally linked. High sex ratios imply fewer married men, and marriage has been conjectured to be a socializing force. Our paper exploits the quasi-natural experiment generated by the Chinese one-child policy, a policy which is widely held to be behind the surplus of sons. While a national policy, its implementation was local. We show that the provincial level implementation was unrelated to contemporaneous economic characteristics of the province. Instead, individual characteristics of the provincial party secretary influenced the timing. Moreover, leaders were systematically rotated such that 10 years on, leader characteristics were serially uncorrelated. Using annual province-level data for the period 1988-2004, we show that a 0.01 increase in the sex ratio raised violent and property crime rates by some 3%, suggesting that the rise in excess males may account for up to one-seventh of the overall rise in crime.

Suggested Citation

  • Edlund, Lena & Li, Hongbin & Yi, Junjian & Zhang, Junsen, 2007. "Sex Ratios and Crime: Evidence from China’s One-Child Policy," IZA Discussion Papers 3214, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp3214
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Blog mentions

    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Las mujeres desaparecidas
      by Luis Abenza in Politikon on 2014-11-25 14:01:10

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    Cited by:

    1. Choukhmane, Taha & Coeurdacier, Nicolas & Jin, Keyu, 2013. "The One-Child Policy and Household Savings," CEPR Discussion Papers 9688, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    2. Sanders, Nicholas J. & Stoecker, Charles, 2015. "Where have all the young men gone? Using sex ratios to measure fetal death rates," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(C), pages 30-45.
    3. 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.
    4. Sekhri, Sheetal & Storeygard, Adam, 2014. "Dowry deaths: Response to weather variability in India," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 111(C), pages 212-223.
    5. Sheetal Sekhri & Adam Storeygard, 2013. "Dowry Deaths: Consumption Smoothing in Response to Climate Variability in India," Virginia Economics Online Papers 407, University of Virginia, Department of Economics.
    6. Zhang, Chuanchuan, 2011. "Children, support in old age and social insurance in rural China," MPRA Paper 37798, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    7. Lixing Li & Xiaoyu Wu, 2011. "Gender of Children, Bargaining Power, and Intrahousehold Resource Allocation in China," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 46(2), pages 295-316.
    8. Michael Svarer, 2011. "Crime and partnerships," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 9(3), pages 307-325, September.
    9. Shang-Jin Wei & Xiaobo Zhang, 2011. "Sex Ratios, Entrepreneurship, and Economic Growth in the People's Republic of China," NBER Working Papers 16800, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Nandi, Arindam & Deolalikar, Anil B., 2013. "Does a legal ban on sex-selective abortions improve child sex ratios? Evidence from a policy change in India," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 103(C), pages 216-228.
    11. Cameron, Lisa A. & Meng, Xin & Zhang, Dandan, 2016. "China's Sex Ratio and Crime: Behavioral Change or Financial Necessity?," IZA Discussion Papers 9747, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    12. Shang-Jin Wei & Xiaobo Zhang, 2011. "The Competitive Saving Motive: Evidence from Rising Sex Ratios and Savings Rates in China," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 119(3), pages 511-564.
    13. repec:pri:crcwel:wp06-35-ff is not listed on IDEAS
    14. Anukriti, S & Bhalotra, Sonia R. & Tam, Hiu, 2016. "On the Quantity and Quality of Girls: New Evidence on Abortion, Fertility, and Parental Investments," IZA Discussion Papers 10271, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    15. 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.
    16. Russell Smyth & Ingrid Nielsen & Qingguo Zhai, 2010. "Personal Well-being in Urban China," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 95(2), pages 231-251, January.
    17. Nils-Petter Lagerlöf, 2010. "Pacifying monogamy," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 15(3), pages 235-262, September.
    18. S Anukriti & Sonia Bhalotra & Hiu Tam, 2018. "On the Quantity and Quality of Girls: Fertility, Parental Investments, and Mortality," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 950, Boston College Department of Economics.
    19. Shang-Jin Wei & Xiaobo Zhang & Yin Liu, 2012. "Status Competition and Housing Prices," NBER Working Papers 18000, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    20. 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.
    21. Lakshmi Iyer & Anandi Mani & Prachi Mishra & Petia Topalova, 2012. "The Power of Political Voice: Women's Political Representation and Crime in India," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 4(4), pages 165-193, October.
    22. Kang, Lili & Peng, Fei, 2012. "Siblings, public facilities and education returns in China," MPRA Paper 38922, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    23. Chang, Simon & Zhang, Xiaobo, 2012. "The Economic Consequences of Excess Men: Evidence from a Natural Experiment in Taiwan:," IFPRI discussion papers 1203, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).

    More about this item

    Keywords

    male-biased sex ratios; crime; one-child policy; China;

    JEL classification:

    • J12 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Marriage; Marital Dissolution; Family Structure
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law

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