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Why are adult women missing ? son preference and maternal survival in India

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  • Milazzo, Annamaria

Abstract

This paper is the first to show that excess mortality among adult women can be partly explained by strong preference for male children, the same cultural norm widely known to cause excess mortality before birth or at young ages. Using pooled individual-level data for India, the paper compares the age structure and anemia status of women by the sex of their first-born and uncovers several new findings. First, the share of living women with a first-born girl is a decreasing function of the women's age at the time of the survey. Second, while there are no systematic differences at the time of birth, women with a first-born girl are significantly more likely to develop anemia when young (under the age of 30) and these differences disappear for older women. Moreover, among those in the older age group, they appear to be significantly better off in terms of various predetermined characteristics. These findings are consistent with a selection effect in which maternal and adult mortality is higher for women with first-born girls, especially the poor and uneducated with limited access to health care and prenatal sex diagnostic technologies. To ensure the desired sex composition of children, these women resort to a fertility behavior medically known to increase their risk of death. The observed sex ratios for first births imply that 2.2-8.4 percent of women with first-born girls are'missing'because of son preference between the ages of 30 and 49.

Suggested Citation

  • Milazzo, Annamaria, 2014. "Why are adult women missing ? son preference and maternal survival in India," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6802, The World Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:6802
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Astrid Sneyers & Anneleen Vandeplas, 2013. "Girl Power in Agricultural Production: How Much Does it Yield? A Case-Study on the Dairy Sector in India," LICOS Discussion Papers 34113, LICOS - Centre for Institutions and Economic Performance, KU Leuven.
    2. Lambert, Sylvie & Rossi, Pauline, 2016. "Sons as widowhood insurance: Evidence from Senegal," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 120(C), pages 113-127.
    3. repec:eee:deveco:v:135:y:2018:i:c:p:255-271 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. repec:eee:wdevel:v:103:y:2018:i:c:p:311-322 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. repec:eee:ehbiol:v:25:y:2017:i:c:p:99-111 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. S Anukriti & Sungoh Kwon & Nishith Prakash, 2018. "Household Savings and Marriage Payments: Evidence from Dowry in India," Working papers 2018-09, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics.
    7. Milazzo, Annamaria, 2018. "Why are adult women missing? Son preference and maternal survival in India," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 134(C), pages 467-484.
    8. Anukriti, S & Bhalotra, Sonia R. & Tam, Hiu, 2016. "On the Quantity and Quality of Girls: New Evidence on Abortion, Fertility, and Parental Investments," IZA Discussion Papers 10271, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    9. 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).
    10. Adriana D. Kugler & Santosh Kumar, 2017. "Preference for Boys, Family Size, and Educational Attainment in India," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 54(3), pages 835-859, June.
    11. Olivia Bertelli, 2015. "The more the merrier? Adjusting fertility to weather shocks," PSE Working Papers halshs-01226421, HAL.
    12. Maëlys de La Rupelle & Christelle Dumas, 2017. "Health consequences of sterilizations," WIDER Working Paper Series 125, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    13. Lambert, Sylvie & Rossi, Pauline, 2016. "Sons as widowhood insurance: Evidence from Senegal," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 120(C), pages 113-127.
    14. Bhalotra, Sonia R. & Brulé, Rachel & Roy, Sanchari, 2017. "Women's Inheritance Rights Reform and the Preference for Sons in India," IZA Discussion Papers 11239, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    15. Olivia Bertelli, 2015. "The more the merrier? Adjusting fertility to weather shocks," Working Papers halshs-01226421, HAL.
    16. Milazzo, Annamaria, 2014. "Son preference, fertility and family structure : evidence from reproductive behavior among Nigerian women," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6869, The World Bank.
    17. S Anukriti & Sonia Bhalotra & Hiu Tam, 2018. "On the Quantity and Quality of Girls: Fertility, Parental Investments, and Mortality," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 950, Boston College Department of Economics.
    18. repec:spr:demogr:v:55:y:2018:i:1:d:10.1007_s13524-017-0638-3 is not listed on IDEAS
    19. Libois, François & Somville, Vincent, 2018. "Fertility, household size and poverty in Nepal," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 103(C), pages 311-322.
    20. Baranov, Victoria & Bhalotra, Sonia R. & Biroli, Pietro & Maselko, Joanna, 2017. "Maternal Depression, Women’s Empowerment, and Parental Investment: Evidence from a Large Randomized Control Trial," IZA Discussion Papers 11187, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    21. Victoria Baranov & Sonia Bhalotra & Pietro Biroli & Joanna Maselko, 2018. "Maternal Depression, Women’s Empowerment, and Parental Investment: Evidence from a Randomized Control Trial," Working Papers 2018-021, Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Working Group.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Population Policies; Gender and Health; Adolescent Health; Gender and Law; Gender and Development;

    JEL classification:

    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • I10 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - General
    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement

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