Why Do Parents Abort Girls? Patrilocality and Its Historical Origin

Avraham Ebenstein - Lecturer at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem in the Department of Economics

RSVP required by 5PM January 14

Recent scholarship has documented an alarming increase in the sex ratio at birth in parts of East Asia, South Asia and the Caucuses. In this paper, I argue that parents in these regions engage in sex selection because of patrilocal norms that dictate elderly coresidence between parents and sons. Sex ratios and coresidence rates are positively correlated when looking across countries, within countries across districts, and within districts across ethnic groups. The paper then examines the roots of patrilocality and biased sex ratios using the Ethnographic Atlas (Murdock 1965). I find that ethnic groups in areas with land conducive to intensive agriculture have stronger patrilocal norms, higher modern coresidence rates, and higher sex ratios at birth. The paper concludes with an examination of the expansion to old age support in South Korea. Consistent with the paper’s argument, I find that the program was associated with a normalization in the sex ratio at birth.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014 | 12:00 pm — 1:15 pm
Philippines Conference Room, Encina Hall, 3rd Floor

Asia Health Policy Program, Shorenstein APARC