As a result of the strong desire for sons in India, millions of female foetuses have been aborted over the last three decades alongside an abnormally high mortality rate of infant girls. Given the extent of the problem, a large amount of literature exists on the overall root causes of son preference. Little is known, however, on how the decisions to abort female foetuses or neglect infant girls are made. This paper examines the motivations of mothers and fathers and their respective roles in the decision to sex-selectively abort or neglect girls. It is shown that while the motivation behind son preference varies across genders, marriage aligns among spouses not only the level of stated son preference but also the motivations for the preference for sons. In particular, it is shown that spouse’s preference, everything else remaining constant, is by far the most signi.cant determinant of stated son preference. Despite the alignment, some couples express diverging son preference. We show that while sex-selective abortion services are most commonly used by couples and men preferring sons, sex-selective neglect of infant girls is also used as a strategy by mothers in order to achieve their desired sex-ratio.
|Name||Economics Discussion Papers|