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Where there is a will: Fertility behavior and sex bias in large families

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  • Jain, Tarun

Abstract

Boys and girls in India experience large dierences in survival and health outcomes. For example, the 2001 Census reports that the sex ratio for children under six years of age is 927 girls per thousand boys, an outcome that has been attributed to differences in parents’ behavior towards their sons and daughters. Most studies rely primarily on cultural factors or biases in economic returns to explain these differences. In this paper, I propose an explanation where bequest motives drive fertility behavior that generates sex-based differences in outcomes even when parents do not explicitly prefer boys over girls. In India’s patrilocal rural society, women do not inherit property and heads of joint families aim to retain assets within the family lineage for future generations. I hypothesize that this leads heads to bequeath more land to claimants with more sons, in turn generating a race for sons among adult brothers seeking to maximize their inheritance of agricultural land. I confirm this theoretical prediction using panel data from rural households in India. This strategic fertility behavior implies that girls have systematically more siblings compared to boys, and hence receive smaller shares of household resources, offering an explanation for sex-based dierences in outcomes.

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  • Jain, Tarun, 2009. "Where there is a will: Fertility behavior and sex bias in large families," MPRA Paper 16835, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:16835
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    Cited by:

    1. Akansha Batra & Indrani Gupta & Abhiroop Mukhopadhyay, 2018. "Gender Differences in Health Expenditure of Rural Cancer Patients: Evidence from a Public Tertiary Care Facility in India," Journal of Quantitative Economics, Springer;The Indian Econometric Society (TIES), vol. 16(3), pages 615-629, September.
    2. Bhalotra, Sonia & Clots-Figueras, Irma & Iyer, Lakshmi, 2021. "Religion and abortion: The role of politician identity," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 153(C).
    3. Calvi, Rossella & Keskar, Ajinkya, 2021. "'Til Dowry Do Us Part: Bargaining and Violence in Indian Families," CEPR Discussion Papers 15696, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    4. Sonia Bhalotra & Abhishek Chakravarty & Dilip Mookherjee & Francisco J. Pino, 2019. "Property Rights and Gender Bias: Evidence from Land Reform in West Bengal," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 11(2), pages 205-237, April.
    5. Diva Dhar & Tarun Jain & Seema Jayachandran, 2022. "Reshaping Adolescents' Gender Attitudes: Evidence from a School-Based Experiment in India," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 112(3), pages 899-927, March.
    6. Sofia Amaral, 2015. "Do Improved Property Rights Decrease Violence Against Women in India?," Discussion Papers 15-10, Department of Economics, University of Birmingham.
    7. Alexander Stimpfle & David Stadelmann, 2016. "Does Central Europe Import the Missing Women Phenomenon?," CREMA Working Paper Series 2016-04, Center for Research in Economics, Management and the Arts (CREMA).
    8. Southgate, Douglas & Coxhead, Ian A., 2009. "Food Insecurity and Its Determinants in Asia and the Pacific," Staff Papers 92221, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics.
    9. Lata Gangadharan & Tarun Jain & Pushkar Maitra & Joseph Vecci, 2016. "The behavioural implications of women's empowerment programmes," WIDER Working Paper Series 064, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    10. Lnu,Anukriti & Erten,Bilge & Mukherjee,Priya, 2022. "Women’s Political Representation and Intimate Partner Violence," Policy Research Working Paper Series 10113, The World Bank.
    11. Adserà, Alícia & Ferrer, Ana M., 2016. "Speeding up for a son? Fertility transitions among Asian migrants to Canada," CLEF Working Paper Series 1, Canadian Labour Economics Forum (CLEF), University of Waterloo.
    12. Diva Dhar & Tarun Jain & Seema Jayachandran, 2019. "Intergenerational Transmission of Gender Attitudes: Evidence from India," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 55(12), pages 2572-2592, December.
    13. Sisir Debnath, 2015. "The Impact of Household Structure on Female Autonomy in Developing Countries," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 51(5), pages 485-502, May.
    14. Akansha Batra & Indrani Gupta & Abhiroop Mukhopadhyay, 2014. "Does discrimination drive gender differences in health expenditure on adults: Evidence from Cancer patients in rural India," Discussion Papers 14-03, Indian Statistical Institute, Delhi.
    15. Paola A. Suarez, 2018. "Child-bride marriage and female welfare," European Journal of Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 45(1), pages 1-28, February.
    16. Lata Gangadharan & Tarun Jain & Pushkar Maitra & Joseph Vecci, 2016. "The behavioural implications of women's empowerment programmes," WIDER Working Paper Series wp-2016-64, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    17. Ana Ferrer & Alicia Adsera, 2016. "Speeding up for a son? Fertility transitions among Migrants to Canada," Working Papers 1602, University of Waterloo, Department of Economics, revised Mar 2016.
    18. Bahrami-Rad, Duman, 2021. "Keeping it in the family: Female inheritance, inmarriage, and the status of women," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 153(C).

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Strategic bequests. Joint family. Fertility choice. Gender discrimination. Sex ratio.;

    JEL classification:

    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • H31 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents - - - Household
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration
    • J12 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Marriage; Marital Dissolution; Family Structure
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination

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