The determinants of discrimination against daughters in China: evidence from a provincial-level analysis

Popul Stud (Camb). 2009 Mar;63(1):87-102. doi: 10.1080/00324720802535023.


This paper reports a provincial-level analysis of the way in which various socio-economic and socio-demographic determinants influence the decision to discriminate against daughters in China. While most existing studies use the infant or child sex ratio as the only variable to be explained, this study analyses separately the two main discriminatory practices: sex-selective abortion (with sex ratio at birth as a proxy) and neglect of girls' health care (with excess infant mortality among females as a proxy). The analysis helps to illuminate the circumstances that encourage sex-selective behaviours, which appear to be dictated mainly by extreme poverty, family support to the elderly, and father's education, together with the social pressure on couples to adhere to traditional values and roles and the constraints on family size. While sex-selective abortion appears to result from long-term strategies to optimize family composition, lethal neglect is the immediate result of economic constraints.

MeSH terms

  • China / epidemiology
  • Discrimination, Psychological*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant Mortality
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Nuclear Family*
  • Regression Analysis
  • Sex Ratio*
  • Social Problems
  • Socioeconomic Factors