Estimating a Dynamic Model of Sex Selection in China

Avi Ebenstein

High ratios of males to females in China have historically concerned researchers (Sen 1990) and their recent increase has alarmed policymakers worldwide. In this paper, I present a model of fertility choice when parents have access to a sex selection technology and face a mandated fertility limit. By exploiting variation in nes levied in China for unsanctioned births, I estimate the relative price of a son and daughter for mothers observed in China's 2000 census. I found that a son is worth .56 years of income more than a daughter, and the premium is highest among less educated mothers and families engaged in agriculture. I conclude with a set of simulations to predict the effect of revisions to China's fertility regulations, such as allowing all couples a second child and initiatives to subsidize parents who have daughters. 

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