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

Author

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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

    as
    1. 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.
    2. Seema Jayachandran & Ilyana Kuziemko, 2011. "Why Do Mothers Breastfeed Girls Less than Boys? Evidence and Implications for Child Health in India," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 126(3), pages 1485-1538.
    3. Luojia Hu & Analía Schlosser, 2015. "Prenatal Sex Selection and Girls’ Well‐Being: Evidence from India," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 125(587), pages 1227-1261, September.
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    6. Prashant Bharadwaj & Leah K. Lakdawala, 2013. "Discrimination Begins in the Womb: Evidence of Sex-Selective Prenatal Investments," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 48(1), pages 71-113.
    7. Silvia Helena Barcellos & Leandro S. Carvalho & Adriana Lleras-Muney, 2014. "Child Gender and Parental Investments in India: Are Boys and Girls Treated Differently?," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 6(1), pages 157-189, January.
    8. Jean Drèze & Mamta Murthi, 2001. "Fertility, Education, and Development: Evidence from India," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 27(1), pages 33-63.
    9. Jason Abrevaya, 2009. "Are There Missing Girls in the United States? Evidence from Birth Data," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 1(2), pages 1-34, April.
    10. Deon Filmer & Jed Friedman & Norbert Schady, 2009. "Development, Modernization, and Childbearing: The Role of Family Sex Composition," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 23(3), pages 371-398, October.
    11. Akbulut-Yuksel, Mevlude & Rosenblum, Daniel, 2012. "The Indian Ultrasound Paradox," IZA Discussion Papers 6273, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    12. Stephan Klasen & Sebastian Vollmer, 2013. "Missing Women: Age and Disease: A Correction," Courant Research Centre: Poverty, Equity and Growth - Discussion Papers 133, Courant Research Centre PEG.
    13. Daniel Rosenblum, 2013. "The effect of fertility decisions on excess female mortality in India," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 26(1), pages 147-180, January.
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    Citations

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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:wdevel:v:103:y:2018:i:c:p:311-322 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. 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).
    5. 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).
    6. 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.
    7. Olivia Bertelli, 2015. "The more the merrier? Adjusting fertility to weather shocks," PSE Working Papers halshs-01226421, HAL.
    8. Maëlys de La Rupelle & Christelle Dumas, 2017. "Health consequences of sterilizations," WIDER Working Paper Series 125, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    9. Sylvie Lambert & Pauline Rossi, 2015. "Sons as Widowhood Insurance: Evidence from Senegal," Working Papers halshs-00948098, HAL.
    10. 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).
    11. 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.
    12. Libois, François & Somville, Vincent, 2018. "Fertility, household size and poverty in Nepal," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 103(C), pages 311-322.
    13. 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).

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