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Gender bias in China, the Republic of Korea, and India 1920-90 - effects of war, famine, and fertility decline

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  • Das Gupta, Monica
  • Li Shuzhuo

Abstract

Kinship systems in China, the Republic of Korea, and North India have similar features that generate discrimination against girls, and these countries have some of the highest proportions of girls"missing"in the world. The authors document how the excess mortality of girls was increased by war, famine, and fertility decline - all of which constrained household resources - between 1920 and 1990. Of the three countries, China experienced the most crises during this period (with civil war, invasion, and famine). The resulting excess mortality of girls in China offset the demographic forces making for a surplus of wives as overall mortality rates declined. India had the quietest history during this period, and consequently followed the expected pattern of a growing surplus of available wives. These changes in sex ratios had substantial social ramifications. The authors hypothesize that these demographic factors: 1) Encourages the continuation of bride-price in China, while in India there was a shift to dowry. 2) Influenced the extent and manifestations of violence against women. An oversupply of women is the worst scenario for women, as there are fewer constraints to domestic violence. A shortage of women leads to better treatment of wives, as people become more careful not to lose a wife. However in situations of shortage, a small proportion of women may be subject to new types of violence such as being kidnapped for marriage. Ironically, then, higher levels of discrimination against girls can help reduce violence against women. When women are in short supply, their treatment improves. But their autonomy can increase only with fundamental changes in their family position, changes that are taking place only slowly.

Suggested Citation

  • Das Gupta, Monica & Li Shuzhuo, 1999. "Gender bias in China, the Republic of Korea, and India 1920-90 - effects of war, famine, and fertility decline," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2140, The World Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:2140
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Ansley Coale & Judith Banister, 1994. "Five decades of missing females in China," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 31(3), pages 459-479, August.
    2. Judith Heyer, 1992. "The role of dowries and daughters' marriages in the accumulation and distribution of capital in a South Indian Community," Journal of International Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 4(4), pages 419-436, July.
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    Cited by:

    1. Quanbao Jiang & Shuzhuo Li & Marcus Feldman, 2011. "Demographic Consequences of Gender Discrimination in China: Simulation Analysis of Policy Options," Population Research and Policy Review, Springer;Southern Demographic Association (SDA), vol. 30(4), pages 619-638, August.
    2. Smriti Rao & Kade Finnoff, 2015. "Marriage Migration and Inequality in India, 1983–2008," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 41(3), pages 485-505, September.
    3. Lídia Farré, 2013. "The Role of Men in the Economic and Social Development of Women: Implications for Gender Equality," World Bank Research Observer, World Bank Group, vol. 28(1), pages 22-51, February.
    4. Philip Verwimp & Jan Van Bavel, 2014. "Schooling, Violent Conflict, and Gender in Burundi," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 28(2), pages 384-411.
    5. S. Anukriti, 2013. "The Fertility-Sex Ratio Tradeoff: Unintended Consequences of Financial Incentives," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 827, Boston College Department of Economics.
    6. Wang, Yun & Wilson, Craig & Li, Yanxi, 2021. "Gender attitudes and the effect of board gender diversity on corporate environmental responsibility," Emerging Markets Review, Elsevier, vol. 47(C).
    7. Olga Shemyakina, 2009. "The Marriage Market and Tajik Armed Conflict," HiCN Working Papers 66, Households in Conflict Network.
    8. Mu, Ren & Zhang, Xiaobo, 2008. "Gender difference in the long-term impact of famine:," IFPRI discussion papers 760, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    9. Gustavo Anríquez, 2007. "Long-Term Rural Demographic Trends," Working Papers 07-19, Agricultural and Development Economics Division of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO - ESA).
    10. Crow, Britt L., 2010. "Bare-sticks and rebellion: The drivers and implications of China’s reemerging sex imbalance," Technology in Society, Elsevier, vol. 32(2), pages 72-80.
    11. Sharma, Amarendra & Frijters, Paul, 2009. "Groom price-female human capital: Some empirical evidence," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 38(2), pages 270-279, March.

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    Keywords

    Health Monitoring&Evaluation; Public Health Promotion; Population&Development; Anthropology; Demographics; Health Monitoring&Evaluation; Population&Development; Anthropology; Demographics; Adolescent Health;
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