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Missing Women and the Price of Tea in China: The E f ect of Sex-Speci f c Earnings on Sex Imbalance Nancy Qian May 25, 2006 Abstract Economists long have argued that the severe sex imbalance that exists in many developing coun- tries is caused by underlying economic conditions. This paper uses plausibly exogenous increases in sex-speci f c agricultural income caused by post-Mao reforms in China to estimate the e f ects of total income and sex-speci f c income on sex ratios of surviving children. The results show that increasing income alone has no e f ect on sex ratios. In contrast, increasing female income, holding male income constant, increases survival rates for girls; increasing male income, holding female income constant, decreases survival rates for girls. Moreover, increasing the mothers income increases educational attainment for all children, while increasing the fathers income decreases educational attainment for girls and has no e f ect on boys educational attainment. ( JEL I12, J13, J16, J24, O13, O15) I am grateful to my advisors Josh Angrist, Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Du F o for their guidance and support; Daron Acemoglu, John Giles, Ashley Lester, Steven Levitt, Sendhil Mullainathan, Dwight Perkins, Mark Rosenzweig, Seth Sanders and Ivan Fernandez-Val for their suggestions; the Michigan Data Center, Huang Guofang and Terry Sicular for invaluable data assistance; and the participants of the MIT Development Lunch and Seminar, the Applied Micro Seminar at Fudan University, the SSRC Conference for Development and Risk, Harvard East Asian Conference , and the International Conference on Poverty, Inequality, Labour Market and Welfare Reform in China at ANU for useful comments. I acknowledge f nancial support from the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship, the SSRC Fellowship for Development and Risk, and the MIT George C. Schultz Fund. All mistakes are my own. Contact nqian@brown.edu. 1 1 I n t r o d u c t i o n Many Asian and Muslim populations are characterized by highly imbalanced sex ratios. For example, only 48.4% of the populations of Albania, India and China are female in comparison with 50.1% in western Europe. 1 Amartya Sen (1990, 1992) coined the expression missing women to refer to the observed female de f cit in comparing sex ratios of developing countries with sex ratios of rich countries. An estimated 30-70 million women are missing from India and China alone. 2 This phenomenon is not isolated in poor countries. The ratios of South Korea and Taiwan are identical to those of India and China. Figures 1A and 1B show that Chinas sex imbalance is increasing rather than decreasing with rapid economic growth. In the long run, male-biased sex ratios can a f ect marriage market and labor market outcomes (Angrist, 2002; Samuelson, 1985). A more immediate concern, though, is that to select the sex of a child, parents must resort to methods such as selective abortion, neglect or infanticide.... View Full Document

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