The Changing Geography of Gender in India

Scott L. Fulford, Boston College

This paper examines the changing distribution of where women and girls live in India at the smallest possible scale: India's nearly 600,000 villages. Village India is becoming more homogeneous in its preferences for boys even as those preferences becomes more pronounced. A consequence is that more than two thirds of girls now grow up in villages where they are the minority. Most Indian women move on marriage, so parents' sex selection decisions are felt well beyond the village. Yet marriage migration does not have an equalizing influence on sexual imbalances across villages. Linking all villages across two censuses, I show that changes in village infrastructure such as roads, power supplies, or health clinics are not related to changes in child sex. Geographically close villages reinforce each other's preferences. The results suggest that there are no easy policy solutions for addressing the increasing masculinization of Indian society.

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Presented in Session 176: Gender and Development