Gender Imbalance in China: A Cautionary Tale of Land Reform, Income, and Sex Ratios


  • Shuang Zhang
Venue Changed to the Philippines Conference Room
This paper examines the effect of income growth induced by 1978–84 land reform on the
sex ratio imbalance in China. Using variation in reform timing by county together with the
absence of sex selection among first-born child, we compare the sex of the second child between families with a first girl and those with a first boy before and after the reform. Results show that following a first daughter, the second child is 5.5 percent more likely to be a boy after landreform. Better educated parents are substantially more likely to respond with sex selection. After assessing various potential channels, our evidence is most consistent with an effect of increased household income.
Shuang Zhang is a postdoctoral fellow at SIEPR. She received her PhD from Cornell University in 2012 and will start as an assistant professor at the University of Colorado Boulder after one year at SIEPR. Her primary interests are development, health and education. Her current work focuses on various reforms and health outcomes in China.