In two recent posts I referenced the use of life expectancy statistics by economist Amartya Sen to highlight social inequality. So I feel compelled to report on a new paper which is critical of another set of data used by Sen: the gender gap in birth rates.
This is an important link because it goes a long way towards explaining the 100 million “missing women” Amartya Sen had noticed when examining statistics on childbirth in Asia. In fact, it seems to account for about half of them; although primarily in China, not India. Basically, pregnant women with hepatitis B are much less likely to give birth to boys than the general population. Hepatitis B can account for “roughly 75 percent of the missing women in China,” but “less than 20 percent of the boy-girl gap” in India.
The article is also worth reading for a nice coda regarding Emily Oster’s contribution to the study of child language acquisition.