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Seminar by Prof. Jagadeesh Sivadasan

Skewed Sex Ratios in India: Role of Gender-Specific Effects of Early Rainfall Shocks

Professor Jagadeesh Sivadasan, Ross School of Business,  University of Michigan- Ann Arbor, USA delivered a seminar on “Skewed Sex Ratios in India: Role of Gender-Specific Effects of Early Rainfall Shocks,” at a seminar held at the Joan Robinson Hall, CDS on Thursday, 12 July 2018.

Abstract: Highly imbalanced sex ratio consistent with a significant number of “missing women” is a striking (and persistent) feature in India (as well as a number of other developing countries). This paper investigates the role of one potential channel – asymmetric impact of rainfall shocks around the birth year on women – in explaining this gender imbalance. We link over a century of monthly precipitation data (1911-2011) to the population by age in 1991, 2001 and 2011 Indian censuses for 549 districts to study the impact of rainfall shocks around birth year on local population sex ratios. Using an index that separately measures excess (wet) as well as negative (dry) rainfall shocks for each district and cohort, we find that abnormal rainfall around the birth year, both too much and too little, is associated with reduced relative female population (lower women to men sex ratios). The results are robust to using alternative rainfall indices and different sets of fixed effects. Our estimates imply that in the absence of this differential impact on women, the relative number of women would have been higher by about 3.1 million, which is about 7.2% of total number of missing females in India in 2010 (based on the estimate of 43.3 million in Bongaarts and Guilmoto (2015)). Using sex ratio at age 0 in year 2011 (which we argue reflects prevalence of sex-selective abortion in 2011) and the district-level gender literacy gap in 1991 as proxies for gender preference, we find the negative effects of birth year rainfall shocks are significantly larger in places with stronger preference for males, suggesting that male-biased resource allocation played a strong role in the more negative impact of rainfall shocks on women.