The Unintended Consequence of "Son Preference"
Fascinating article in today’s Washington Post by Emily Wax about how Indian brides-to-be are holding out for one particular convenience before committing to marriage: an indoor toilet.
But wait, you may say: women in India don’t have the leverage to make such demands, do they?
Well, some of them do. As Wax explains, the “son preference” exhibited in India (and elsewhere) has produced an unintended consequence for those sons once they are grown:
A societal preference for boys here has become an unlikely source of power for Indian women. The abortion of female fetuses in favor of sons — an illegal but widespread practice — means there are more eligible bachelors than potential brides, allowing women and their parents to be more selective when arranging a match. …
Satellite television and the Internet are spreading images of rising prosperity and urban middle-class accouterments to rural areas, such as spacious apartments — with bathrooms — and women in silk saris rushing off to the office.
We have more to say in SuperFreakonomics about the plight of Indian women, particularly as affected by satellite TV; here’s a clue.