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Research Master Defense

Savings and the Sex Ratio Bias in India: A District-level Analysis

  • Series
    Research Master Defense
  • Location
  • Date and time

    August 23, 2022
    16:00 - 17:00

India shows a persistently male-biased child sex ratio -- i.e., the number of girls per thousand boys --, which has been attributed to the manifestation of a strong son preference. One often mentioned reason for boy-preference in India is the expected role of sons in providing old-age support to parents, especially in the absence of alternative means to secure future consumption. With this in mind, this MPhil thesis investigates whether the level of savings is associated with bias in the sex ratio in India. I construct a two-period district-level data set using data from the Indian Census (2001 and 2011 rounds) and the Reserve Bank of India, and I make use of the geographic heterogeneity in India to investigate the association between the level of savings per capita and the sex ratio among children form 0 to 5 years old. I find that savings are positively related to the sex ratio, indicating that an increase in savings is associated with a lower boy-preference, and that constraints to savings may be a factor underlying the persistence of the sex ratio bias in India. However, while this positive relationship is statistically robust, it can at best provide only a partial explanation.