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Adult Sex Ratios and Sex-selective Abortion in China

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posted on 07.05.2021, 15:24 by Kieron BarclayKieron Barclay
Using China census data from 1990, this paper presents empirical evidence for the hypothesis that adult sex ratios affect propensities to engage in sex-selective abortion through a negative feedback process. The hypothesized mechanism is that parents will adopt a mixed strategy and adjust the degree to which they invest in either sex in response to imbalances in the adult sex ratio so as to maximize their own reproductive fitness. Parents living in areas with a low adult sex ratio should demonstrate a high propensity to engage in sex-selective abortion for a son, and parents living in areas with a high adult sex ratio should demonstrate a low propensity to engage in sex-selective abortion for a son, or even to sex-selectively abort for a daughter. Separate analyses were performed for all first, second, and third order births, as well as additional analyses where the sex composition of previous births was taken into account. No significant relationship was found for first order births, but a large and statistically significant effect was found for second order and third order births. This relationship was also dependent upon the sex composition of earlier births, and the relationship was found to be strongest for those mothers who had previously given birth to sons. The results suggest an interaction between cultural preferences, economic utility-maximizing behaviour, and a desire to maximize reproductive fitness.

Funding

Stockholm University

History

ISSN

2002-617X

Original title

Adult Sex Ratios and Sex-selective Abortion in China

Original language

English

Publication date

15/03/2011

Affiliation (institution of first SU-affiliated author)

310 Sociologiska institutionen | Department of Sociology