Son Preference, Sex Selection and Economic Development: The Case of South Korea
Sex ratios at birth in South Korea reached 116.5 boys per 100 girls in 1990, but have since declined. In 2007, sex ratios were almost normal, a development heralded as a sign that son preference and sex choice have vanished. However, normal sex ratios imply neither. We show that over the last 60 years, the relationship between sex ratios and parental status changed from negative to positive. This pattern, we argue, is consistent with a model where parents prefer sons and sex select - ultrasound and economic development accounting for the change in who chooses sons.
Lena Edlund conducted this research in her capacity as an associate professor at Columbia university, No external sources funded this research. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research. Chulhee Lee conducted this research in his capacity as a professor at Seoul National University. His research was supported by National Research Foundation of South Korea (NRF-2010-327-B00094).