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Son Preference, Sex Selection and Economic Development: The Case of South Korea

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  • Lena Edlund
  • Chulhee Lee

Abstract

Sex ratios at birth in South Korea reached 116.5 boys per 100 girls in 1990, but have since declined. In 2007, sex ratios were almost normal, a development heralded as a sign that son preference and sex choice have vanished. However, normal sex ratios imply neither. We show that over the last 60 years, the relationship between sex ratios and parental status changed from negative to positive. This pattern, we argue, is consistent with a model where parents prefer sons and sex select - ultrasound and economic development accounting for the change in who chooses sons.

Suggested Citation

  • Lena Edlund & Chulhee Lee, 2013. "Son Preference, Sex Selection and Economic Development: The Case of South Korea," NBER Working Papers 18679, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:18679
    Note: CH
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    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w18679.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Monica Das Gupta & Jiang Zhenghua & Li Bohua & Xie Zhenming & Woojin Chung & Bae Hwa-Ok, 2003. "Why is Son preference so persistent in East and South Asia? a cross-country study of China, India and the Republic of Korea," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 40(2), pages 153-187.
    2. Lena Edlund, 2005. "Sex and the City," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 107(1), pages 25-44, March.
    3. Jinyoung Kim, 2005. "Sex selection and fertility in a dynamic model of conception and abortion," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 18(1), pages 41-67, January.
    4. Lena Edlund & Evelyn Korn, 2002. "A Theory of Prostitution," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(1), pages 181-214, February.
    5. Woojin Chung & Monica Das Gupta, 2007. "The Decline of Son Preference in South Korea: The Roles of Development and Public Policy," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 33(4), pages 757-783.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Pauline Rossi & Léa Rouanet, 2015. "Gender Preferences in Africa: A Comparative Analysis of Fertility Choices," Working Papers halshs-01074934, HAL.
    2. Onur Altindag, 2015. "Son Preference, Fertility Decline and the Non-Missing Girls of Turkey," Working Papers 5, City University of New York Graduate Center, Ph.D. Program in Economics, revised 20 Mar 2016.
    3. James Bisbee & Rajeev Dehejia & Cristian Pop-Eleches & Cyrus Samii, 2017. "Local Instruments, Global Extrapolation: External Validity of the Labor Supply-Fertility Local Average Treatment Effect," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 35(S1), pages 99-147.
    4. Esther Duflo, 2012. "Women Empowerment and Economic Development," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 50(4), pages 1051-1079, December.
    5. 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.
    6. Tatiana Damjanovic & Geethanjali Selvaretnam, 2015. "Economic Growth and Evolution of Gender Equality," Working Papers 2015_20, Business School - Economics, University of Glasgow.
    7. Pauline Grosjean & Rose Khattar, 2014. "It's Raining Men! Hallelujah?," Discussion Papers 2014-29, School of Economics, The University of New South Wales.
    8. Rossi, Pauline & Rouanet, Léa, 2015. "Gender Preferences in Africa: A Comparative Analysis of Fertility Choices," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 72(C), pages 326-345.
    9. Douglas Almond & Lena Edlund & Kevin Milligan, 2009. "O Sister, Where Art Thou? The Role of Son Preference and Sex Choice: Evidence from Immigrants to Canada," NBER Working Papers 15391, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Shang-Jin Wei & Xiaobo Zhang & Yin Liu, 2012. "Status Competition and Housing Prices," NBER Working Papers 18000, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. Matthias Doepke & Michèle Tertilt & Alessandra Voena, 2012. "The Economics and Politics of Women's Rights," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 4(1), pages 339-372, July.
    12. Brian Beach & Martin Saavedra, 2015. "Mitigating the Effects of Low Birth Weight: Evidence from Randomly Assigned Adoptees," American Journal of Health Economics, MIT Press, vol. 1(3), pages 275-296, Summer.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J11 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Demographic Trends, Macroeconomic Effects, and Forecasts
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration

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