Determinants of Son Preference in India: Disentangling Economic Factors and Cultural Attitudes

Alessandro Tarozzi, Duke University
William H. Dow, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

We study determinants of son preference in India. First, we use more recent and richer data to update Rosenzweig and Schultz's (1982) test of the role of sex-specific labor market conditions in affecting male versus female birth choices, health inputs such as prenatal care and immunizations, and outcomes such as child nutritional status. Second, we test the role of factors reflecting cultural attitudes, such as women's intrahousehold power and attitudes towards domestic violence. We use data on parents and children from the 1992-93 and 1998-99 Indian NFHS, and labor market indicators from the 1993-94 and 1999-2000 Employment NSS. We also re-evaluate the common finding that high birth order girls are particularly at risk. We find that older siblings currently in the household, rather than the number of older siblings per se, hinders high birth order girls' outcomes: this is consistent with the importance of economic constraints in affecting discrimination.

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Presented in Session 28: Gender Preferences for Children