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Seminar Series: Why do Parents Abort Girls? Patrilocality and Its Historical Origins

Avraham Y. Ebenstein, Visiting Assistant Professor, Center for Health and Wellbeing, Princeton University
When Nov 25, 2013
from 12:00 PM to 01:00 PM
Where 0124B Cole Student Activities Building
Contact Name
Contact Phone 301-405-6403
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About the Talk

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 among ethnic groups using the Ethnographic Atlas (Murdock 1965).  I find that ethnic groups in areas with land conductive 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.

About the Speaker

Avi Ebstenstein

Avi Ebenstein received his Ph.D. in economics from University of California, Berkeley in 2007. His fields of interest include environmental economics, health economics, and economic demography. Dr. Ebenstein's past research examined the impact of fertility control policy in China on the sex ratio and investigated policies that might address the "missing girls" phenomenon in Asia. He also explored linkages between declining fertility and increasing female labor supply in Taiwan and the United States in a comparative study. His current research examines the health impacts of environmental deterioration and the design of effective environmental policy, with a focus on developing countries.

Visit Professor Ebenstein's webpage

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