Why Are Sex Ratios Beginning to Even Out in India? A Test of Supply and Demand Side Factors Influencing Son Preference

Nadia Diamond-Smith, University of California, San Francisco

Evidence from the most recent India census suggests that despite a country-level downward trend in child sex ratios (fewer girls than boys), the districts that have historically had the most skewed sex ratios are beginning to show evidence of slowing and turn-around. This paper explores demand and supply side factors that could influence son preference and sex selective behavior. The marriage market, labor market, and social norms are explored as demand side factors, and supply side factors relating to availability of medical professionals are explored. We find evidence that a larger age gap between spouses, more women in the community in professional occupations, and possibly access to a health professional are associated the odds of having a boy, and overall community level child sex ratios. More research on possible mechanisms for improvements in sex ratios is necessary, particularly using data sources that allow for integration of other district level data.

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Presented in Session 87: Son Preference and Sex Selection