Son Preference in India: Prevelance, Trends and Agents of Change
Due to a number of social, cultural and economic considerations, families in parts of India exhibit a strong and persistent preference for sons over daugthers. In the past it has led to skewed sex ratios in the country. The imbalance has been attributed to the systematic discrimination against females in terms of access to nutrition and health care (missing women hypothesis).It was expected that as India went trough a process of economic growth this phenomenon would decline. However, we find that despite considerable economic development and social change, son preference remains high. In recent years the processes of fertility decline and advent of sex selection technologies have meant that families translate their preference for sons into prenatal discrimination against the female fetus, as can be witnessed by the worsening sex ratio at birth in India. I want to investigate the important agents of change in this context. In particular, I look at the role of female literacy, labor force participation and other proxies for autonomy in changing household preferences regarding the sex composition of their families.
Keywords: Demography, Gender, Education, India
PhD Student, Department of Applied Economics, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities