Why does the Great Chinese Famine affect the male and female survivors differently? Mortality selection versus son preference

Econ Hum Biol. 2011 Jan;9(1):92-105. doi: 10.1016/j.ehb.2010.07.003. Epub 2010 Aug 3.


Evidence shows that exposure to nutritional adversity in early life has larger long-term impacts on women than on men. Consistent with these findings, our paper shows a higher incidence of disability and illiteracy among female survivors of the Great Chinese Famine (1959-1961). Moreover we find that the better health of male survivors most plausibly reflects higher male excess mortality during the famine, whereas the observed gender difference in illiteracy rate is probably better explained by the culture of son preference.

Publication types

  • Historical Article

MeSH terms

  • China / epidemiology
  • Disabled Persons / statistics & numerical data*
  • Educational Status*
  • Female
  • Health Status Disparities
  • History, 20th Century
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Models, Statistical
  • Mortality / trends
  • Regression Analysis
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors
  • Starvation / history*
  • Starvation / mortality*
  • Survivors / history
  • Survivors / statistics & numerical data*