IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

Does Hepatitis B infection or son preference explain the bulk of gender imbalance in China ? : a review of the evidence

  • Das Gupta, Monica

China has a large deficit of females, and public policies have sought to reduce the son preference that is widely believed to cause this. Recently a study has suggested that up to 75 percent of this deficit is attributable to hepatitis B infection, indicating that immunization programs should form the first plank of policy interventions. However, a large medical dataset from Taiwan (China) shows that hepatitis B infection raises women's probability of having a son by only 0.25 percent. And demographic data from China show that the only group of women who have elevated probabilities of bearing a son are those who have already borne daughters. This pattern makes it difficult to see how any biological factor can explain a largepart of the imbalance in China's sex ratios at birth -- unless it can be shown that it somehow selectively affects those who have borne girls, or causes them to first bear girls and then boys. The Taiwanese data suggest that this is not the case with hepatitis B, since its impact is unaffected by the sex composition of previous births. The data support the cultural, rather than the biological, explanation for the"missing women."

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 4502.

in new window

Date of creation: 01 Jan 2008
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:4502
Contact details of provider: Postal: 1818 H Street, N.W., Washington, DC 20433
Phone: (202) 477-1234
Web page:

More information through EDIRC

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. 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.
  2. Stephan Klasen & Claudia Wink, 2002. "A Turning Point in Gender Bias in Mortality? An Update on the Number of Missing Women," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 28(2), pages 285-312.
  3. Emily Oster, 2005. "Hepatitis B and the Case of the Missing Women," Working Papers id:266, eSocialSciences.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:4502. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Roula I. Yazigi)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.