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Son Preference and Access to Social Insurance: Evidence from China's Rural Pension Program

Avraham Ebenstein and Steven Leung

Population and Development Review, 2010, vol. 36, issue 1, 47-70

Abstract: Many scholars argue that the persistence of son preference in China is driven by greater anticipated old‐age support from sons than from daughters and the absence of formal financial mechanisms for families to save for retirement. The introduction of a voluntary old‐age pension program in rural China in the 1990s presents the opportunity to examine (1) whether parents with sons are less likely to participate in pension plans and (2) whether providing access to pension plans affects parental sex‐selection decisions. Consistent with the first hypothesis, we find that parents with sons are less likely to participate in the pension program and have less financial savings for retirement. Consistent with the second hypothesis, we find that an increase in county‐level pension program availability is associated with a slower increase in the sex ratio at birth.

Date: 2010
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