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Estimating the Effect of the One-Child Policy on Sex Ratio Imbalance in China: Identification Based on the Difference-in-Differences

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  • Li, Hongbin

    () (Stanford University)

  • Yi, Junjian

    () (National University of Singapore)

  • Zhang, Junsen

    () (Chinese University of Hong Kong)

Abstract

In China, the male-biased sex ratio has increased significantly. Because the one-child policy only applied to the Han Chinese but not to minorities, this unique affirmative policy allows us to identify the causal effect of the one-child policy on the increase in sex ratios by a difference-in-differences (DD) estimator. Using the 1990 census, we find that the strict enforcement of the one-child policy has led to 4.4 extra boys per 100 girls in the 1980s, accounting for about 94% of the total increase in sex ratios during this period. The robust tests indicate that the estimated policy effect is not likely confounded by other omitted policy shocks or socioeconomic changes. Moreover, we conduct the DD estimation using both the 2000 census and the 2005 mini-census. Our estimates suggest that the one-child policy has resulted in about 7.0 extra boys per 100 girls for the 1991-2005 birth cohort. The effect of the one-child policy accounts for about 57% and 54% of the total increases in sex ratios for the 1990s and the 2001-2005 birth cohorts, respectively.

Suggested Citation

  • Li, Hongbin & Yi, Junjian & Zhang, Junsen, 2010. "Estimating the Effect of the One-Child Policy on Sex Ratio Imbalance in China: Identification Based on the Difference-in-Differences," IZA Discussion Papers 5149, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp5149
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. 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.
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    Cited by:

    1. Huang, Yue, 2015. "Does A Child Quantity-Quality Trade-Off Exist? Evidence from the One-Child Policy in China," Annual Conference 2015 (Muenster): Economic Development - Theory and Policy 113215, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    2. Xu, Guo, 2011. "Long-run consequences of natural disasters: Evidence from Tangshan," Proceedings of the German Development Economics Conference, Berlin 2011 82, Verein für Socialpolitik, Research Committee Development Economics.
    3. Zhang, Chuanchuan, 2011. "Children, support in old age and social insurance in rural China," MPRA Paper 37798, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    4. Ge, Suqin & Yang, Dennis T. & Zhang, Junsen, 2012. "Population Policies, Demographic Structural Changes, and the Chinese Household Saving Puzzle," IZA Discussion Papers 7026, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

    More about this item

    Keywords

    sex ratio imbalance; difference-in-differences estimator; one-child policy;

    JEL classification:

    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • J15 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Minorities, Races, Indigenous Peoples, and Immigrants; Non-labor Discrimination
    • J18 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Public Policy
    • O10 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - General

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