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Breast-Feeding and the "Missing Girls"

A new working paper by Seema Jayachandran and Ilyana Kuziemko offers another explanation for the “missing girls” phenomenon observed in some developing countries. Breast-feeding both improves health outcomes and temporarily decreases fertility. Jayachandran and Kuziemko argue that women with a preference for male children may wean daughters earlier in the hopes of restoring their fertility and conceiving a son, resulting in worse health outcomes for girls. The authors find that daughters are weaned sooner than sons and conclude that the breastfeeding factor explains 14 percent of India’s missing girls. (Related: even in the U.S., some Asian families exhibit a “son preference.”) (HT: Karen Grepin) [%comments]