“Missing Girls” in China and India: Trends and Policy Challenges

Zhen Guo, Huazhong University of Science and Technology
Monica Das Gupta, University of Maryland
Shuzhuo Li, Xi'an Jiaotong University

Child sex ratios plateaued in China between the censuses of 2000 and 2010, a major change from decades of sharp rises. In India they rose by 1.4% during the intercensal period 2001-2011, which is a much slower rate of increase than in previous decades, and reported son preference is falling. In both countries, the largest declines are in areas that had the highest child sex ratios earlier, while some surrounding areas show rises. State policies to reduce sex-selection through offering financial incentives or bans on the use of sex-selective technology show limited evidence of effectiveness. In China, the census data show a sharp shift towards sex-selection at the first birth, likely related to the mode of implementation of the program to reduce sex-selection. However, the most effective solution is not to prevent sex-selection, but to reduce the demand for it through media outreach, and studies indicate that this can work.

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Presented in Session 59: Global Perspectives on Demography and Gender Inequality: Polices, Patterns, and Processes