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More Women Missing, Fewer Girls Dying: The Impact of Abortion on Sex Ratios at Birth and Excess Female Mortality in Taiwan

  • Ming-Jen Lin
  • Nancy Qian
  • Jin-Tan Liu

This paper presents novel empirical evidence on the impact of access to abortion on sex ratios at birth (SRB), excess female mortality (EFM) and fertility in Taiwan. For identification, we exploit plausibly exogenous variation in the availability of sex-selective abortion caused by the legalization of abortion. Our results show that the legalization of abortion accounts for almost all of the observed increase in SRB during the 1980s and decreased EFM by approximately 20%. Approximately ten more female infants survived for every one hundred that were aborted. Interestingly, we find that while abortion reduced overall fertility, it increased fertility for older mothers.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 14541.

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Date of creation: Dec 2008
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14541
Note: HE
Contact details of provider: Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
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  1. Jason Abrevaya, 2009. "Are There Missing Girls in the United States? Evidence from Birth Data," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 1(2), pages 1-34, April.
  2. Karen Norberg, 2004. "Partnership Status and the Human Sex Ratio at Birth," NBER Working Papers 10920, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Lena Edlund, 1999. "Son Preference, Sex Rations, and Marriage Patterns," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(6), pages 1275-1304, December.
  4. Donohue, John J. & Levitt, Steven D., 2000. "The Impact of Legalized Abortion on Crime," Berkeley Olin Program in Law & Economics, Working Paper Series qt00p599hk, Berkeley Olin Program in Law & Economics.
  5. Shin-Yi Chou & Jin-Tan Liu & Michael Grossman & Ted Joyce, 2010. "Parental Education and Child Health: Evidence from a Natural Experiment in Taiwan," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 2(1), pages 33-61, January.
  6. Thomas, D., 1995. "Like Father, Like Son, Like Mother, Like Daughter, Parental Resources and Child Height," Papers 95-01, RAND - Reprint Series.
  7. Nancy Qian, 2008. "Missing Women and the Price of Tea in China: The Effect of Sex-Specific Earnings on Sex Imbalance," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 123(3), pages 1251-1285, August.
  8. Robin Burgess & Juzhong Zhuang, 2000. "Modernisation and son preference," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 2115, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  9. Angrist, Joshua, 2001. "How Do Sex Ratios Affect Marriage and Labor Markets? Evidence from America's Second Generation," IZA Discussion Papers 368, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  10. Duncan Thomas & John Strauss & Maria-Helena Henriques, 1991. "How Does Mother's Education Affect Child Height?," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 26(2), pages 183-211.
  11. Rosenzweig, Mark R & Schultz, T Paul, 1982. "Market Opportunities, Genetic Endowments, and Intrafamily Resource Distribution: Child Survival in Rural India," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 72(4), pages 803-15, September.
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