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Sex Ratios, Entrepreneurship, and Economic Growth in the People's Republic of China

  • Shang-Jin Wei
  • Xiaobo Zhang

China experiences an increasingly severe relative surplus of men in the pre-marital age cohort. The existing literature on its consequences focuses mostly on negative aspects such as crime. In this paper, we provide evidence that the imbalance may also stimulate economic growth by inducing more entrepreneurship and hard work. First, new domestic private firms - an important engine of growth - are more likely to emerge from regions with a higher sex ratio imbalance. Second, the likelihood for parents with a son to be entrepreneurs rises with the local sex ratio. Third, households with a son in regions with a more skewed sex ratio demonstrate a greater willingness to accept relatively dangerous or unpleasant jobs and supply more work days. In contrast, the labor supply pattern by households with a daughter is unrelated to the sex ratio. Finally, regional GDP tends to grow faster in provinces with a higher sex ratio. Since the sex ratio imbalance will become worse in the near future, this growth effect is likely to persist.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 16800.

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Date of creation: Feb 2011
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:16800
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  1. Mu, Ren & Zhang, Xiaobo, 2011. "Why does the Great Chinese Famine affect the male and female survivors differently? Mortality selection versus son preference," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 9(1), pages 92-105, January.
  2. Avraham Ebenstein, 2011. "Estimating a Dynamic Model of Sex Selection in China," Demography, Springer, vol. 48(2), pages 783-811, May.
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  5. Emily Oster, 2005. "Hepatitis B and the Case of the Missing Women," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 113(6), pages 1163-1216, December.
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  8. Erwin Bulte & Nico Heerink & Xiaobo Zhang, 2011. "China's One‐Child Policy and ‘the Mystery of Missing Women’: Ethnic Minorities and Male‐Biased Sex Ratios," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 73(1), pages 21-39, 02.
  9. Hongbin Li & Junsen Zhang, 2007. "Do High Birth Rates Hamper Economic Growth?," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 89(1), pages 110-117, February.
  10. Hongbin LI & Hui ZHENG, 2009. "Ultrasonography and Sex Ratios in China," Asian Economic Policy Review, Japan Center for Economic Research, vol. 4(1), pages 121-137.
  11. Shang-Jin Wei & Xiaobo Zhang, 2009. "The Competitive Saving Motive: Evidence from Rising Sex Ratios and Savings Rates in China," NBER Working Papers 15093, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Qian, Nancy, 2006. "Missing Women and the Price of Tea in China: The Effect of Sex-Specific Earnings on Sex Imbalance," CEPR Discussion Papers 5986, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  13. Franco Modigliani & Shi Larry Cao, 2004. "The Chinese Saving Puzzle and the Life-Cycle Hypothesis," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 42(1), pages 145-170, March.
  14. Qingyuan Du & Shang-Jin Wei, 2011. "A Darwinian Perspective on "Exchange Rate Undervaluation"," NBER Working Papers 16788, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. 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).
  16. Ming-Jen Lin & Ming-Ching Luoh, 2008. "Can Hepatitis B Mothers Account for the Number of Missing Women? Evidence from Three Million Newborns in Taiwan," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(5), pages 2259-73, December.
  17. Qingyuan Du & Shang-Jin Wei, 2010. "A Sexually Unbalanced Model of Current Account Imbalances," NBER Working Papers 16000, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  18. 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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