Education and gender bias in the sex ratio at birth: evidence from India

Demography. 2010 Feb;47(1):249-68. doi: 10.1353/dem.0.0089.


This article investigates the possible existence of a nonlinear link between female disadvantage in natality and education. To this end, we devise a theoretical model based on the key role of social interaction in explaining people's acquisition of preferences, which justifies the existence of a nonmonotonic relationship between female disadvantage in natality and education. The empirical validity of the proposed model is examined for the case of India, using district-level data. In this context, our econometric analysis pays particular attention to the role of spatial dependence to avoid any potential problems of misspecification. The results confirm that the relationship between the sex ratio at birth and education in India follows an inverted U-shape. This finding is robust to the inclusion of additional explanatory variables in the analysis, and to the choice of the spatial weight matrix used to quantify the spatial interdependence between the sample districts.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Education*
  • Educational Status
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Health Services Accessibility
  • Humans
  • India
  • Male
  • Models, Econometric
  • Nonlinear Dynamics
  • Prejudice*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Residence Characteristics
  • Sex Preselection* / psychology
  • Sex Preselection* / statistics & numerical data
  • Sex Ratio*
  • Small-Area Analysis
  • Social Values