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A Flow Measure of Missing Women by Age and Disease

Stephan Klasen and Sebastian Vollmer ()
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Sebastian Vollmer: Center for Modern Indian Studies, Göttingen

PGDA Working Papers from Program on the Global Demography of Aging

Abstract: The existing literature on 'missing women' suggests that the problem is mostly concentrated in India and China, and mostly related to sex-selective abortions and neglect of female children. In a recent paper in the Review of Economic Studies, Anderson and Ray (AR) develop a new ‘flow’ measure of missing women in developing countries by comparing actual age-sex-specific mortality rates with 'expected' ones. Contrary to the existing literature on missing women, they, and the World Bank which subsequently followed this method, find that gender bias in mortality is much larger than previously found (4Ͳ5 million excess female deaths per year), is as severe among adults as it is among children in India, is larger in Sub-Saharan Africa than in China and India, and was a massive problem in the US around 1900.We show that the data for Sub-Saharan Africa used by AR are generated by simulations in ways that deliver the findings on Africa (and the US in 1900) by construction. We also show that the findings are entirely dependent on a highly implausible reference standard from rich countries that is inappropriately applied to settings in developing countries; the attempt to control for differences in the disease environment does not correct for this problem and fails basic plausibility checks. When a more appropriate reference standard is used, most of the new findings of AR disappear, the extent of gender bias in mortality is much smaller (though still substantial). JEL codes: J16, D63, I10

Keywords: Missing women; gender bias; mortality; disease; age; Sub-Saharan Africa; China; India (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2016-10
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Working Paper: A Flow Measure of Missing Women by Age and Disease (2018) Downloads
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