Our latest Freakonomics Radio podcast is called “Do Baby Girls Cause Divorce?” (You can subscribe at iTunes, get the RSS feed, or listen via the media player above. You can also read the transcript below; it includes credits for the music you’ll hear in the episode.)
This episode was inspired by a question from a reader named John Dolan-Heitlinger, who wrote the following:
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My wife has observed that in marriages where there is a son there is less chance of the husband leaving the marriage.
I wonder if that is true.
Thanks for your consideration.
In a podcast called “Misadventures in Baby-Making,” we explored China’s one-child policy as a cause of sex-selective abortion and, therefore, skewed male-female sex rations. A new working paper (abstract; PDF) by Douglas Almond, Hongbin Li, and Shuang Zhang points to another possible culprit: China’s economic liberalization. From the abstract:
Following the death of Mao in 1976, abandonment of collective farming lifted millions from poverty and heralded sweeping pro-market policies. How did China’s excess in male births respond to rural land reform? In newly-available data from over 1,000 counties, a second child following a daughter was 5.5 percent more likely to be a boy after land reform, doubling the prevailing rate of sex selection. Mothers with higher levels of education were substantially more likely to select sons than were less educated mothers. The One Child Policy was implemented over the same time period and is frequently blamed for increased sex ratios during the early 1980s. Our results point to China’s watershed economic liberalization as a more likely culprit.
I blogged a few years ago about Amadu Jacky Kaba under the headline “A Scholar to Keep Your Eye On”:
Amadu Jacky Kaba is a Liberian-born striver who first came to Seton Hall University as a basketball player and, several degrees later, has returned as an assistant professor of sociology and anthropology. Like our friend Roland Fryer, Kaba is a black scholar who studies a lot of racial issues with a perspective and a latitude that is unavailable to white scholars.
If indeed you had kept your eye on Kaba, you would have seen that he keeps writing lots (and lots) of interesting papers. Read More »
The subtitle is Choosing Boys Over Girls, and the Consequences of a World Full of Men. The book is forthcoming, and the author is Mara Hvistendahl, who was a very good research assistant of mine some years back. Mara transcribed many hours of interview tape with an economist named Steve Levitt for a profile I was writing. She has become an excellent reporter and writer; here’s my blurb:
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“Yes, it’s a rigorous exploration of the world’s ‘missing women,’ but it’s more than that, too: an extraordinarily vivid look at the implications of the problem. Hvistendahl writes beautifully, with an eye for detail but also the big picture. She has a fierce intelligence but, more important, a fierce intellectual independence; she writes with a hard edge but no venom — rather, a cool and hard passion.”