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A Turning Point in Gender Bias in Mortality?


  • Klasen, Stephan
  • Wink, Claudia


More than 10 years ago, Amartya Sen estimated than some 100 million women are 'missing' as a result of excess female mortality in parts of the developing world, most notably South Asia, China, West Asia, and parts of North Africa (Sen, 1989; Sen 1990). Coale (1991) and Klasen (1994) used more precise demographic techniques and arrived at figures that varied between 60 million (Coale) and 90 million (Klasen). All three estimates confirmed the enormous toll excess female mortality was exacting on women in these parts of the world. All these estimates 'missing women' were based on demographic information of the 1980s and early 1990s. Since then, there has been considerable speculation about current trends of gender bias in mortality with some observers suggesting a falling intensity while others predicted the opposite (e.g. Klasen, 1994; Das Gupta and Mari Bath, 1997; Dreze and Sen, 1995; Mayer, 1999; Croll, 2000). Figure 1 shows recent projections by the United Nations Population Division of the sex ratio in the world and in the regions where males outnumber females. These estimates suggest that the sex ratio in the female deficit regions, after rising steadily since 1960, is estimated to peak in about 1985 and then are believed to decline quite sharply. Given the high share these regions have in the world's total population, a turning point in the global sex ratio, after a similar rise since 1960, is also estimated for 1995.

Suggested Citation

  • Klasen, Stephan & Wink, Claudia, 2001. "A Turning Point in Gender Bias in Mortality?," Discussion Papers in Economics 23, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:lmu:muenec:23

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Haddad, Lawrence & Hoddinott, John & Alderman, Harold & DEC, 1994. "Intrahousehold resource allocation : an overview," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1255, The World Bank.
    2. Kynch, Jocelyn & Sen, Amartya, 1983. "Indian Women: Well-Being and Survival," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 7(3-4), pages 363-380, September.
    3. Mark M. Pitt & Shahidur R. Khandker, 1998. "The Impact of Group-Based Credit Programs on Poor Households in Bangladesh: Does the Gender of Participants Matter?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 106(5), pages 958-996, October.
    4. McNay, K. & Humphries, J. & Klasen, S., 1998. "Death and Gender in Victorian England and Wales: Comparisons with Contemporary Developing Countries," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 9801, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
    5. Jean Dr├Ęze & Mamta Murthi, 2001. "Fertility, Education, and Development: Evidence from India," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 27(1), pages 33-63.
    6. Rosenzweig, Mark R & Schultz, T Paul, 1984. "Market Opportunities, Genetic Endowments, and Intrafamily Resource Distribution: Reply," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(3), pages 521-522, June.
    7. Chu Junhong, 2001. "Prenatal Sex Determination and Sex-Selective Abortion in Rural Central China," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 27(2), pages 259-281.
    8. Waldron, Ingrid, 1993. "Recent trends in sex mortality ratios for adults in developed countries," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 36(4), pages 451-462, February.
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    Cited by:

    1. Stephan Klasen, 2006. "Pro-Poor Growth and Gender Inequality," Ibero America Institute for Econ. Research (IAI) Discussion Papers 151, Ibero-America Institute for Economic Research.
    2. Abu-Ghaida, Dina & Klasen, Stephan, 2004. "The Costs of Missing the Millennium Development Goal on Gender Equity," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 32(7), pages 1075-1107, July.

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    JEL classification:

    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • J7 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Discrimination
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination


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