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Missing Women, the Marriage Market and Economic Growth

Dec 1999
Stanford King Center on Global Development Working Paper
Panel data from India during the initial years of the India green revolution are used to re-assess (i) whether gender differences in survival rates reflect gender differentials in the value of human capital and (ii) to what extent policies promoting economic growth can affect the female survival deficit in the absence of fundamental changes in cultural practices that differentiate the roles of men and women. A general equilibrium framework is used which incorporates patrilocal exogamy, whereby sons contribute to parental household incomes but daughters do not, and a marriage market in which dowry plays a role in equilibrating the supply and demand for human capital embodied in new brides. The empirical results indicate that (i) the relative survival rates of boys and girls respond in opposite directions to changing local and regional returns to human capital associated with economic growth, (ii) if economic growth propelled by agricultural technical change had been distributed uniformly across India on average girl survival would have increased relative to that of boys, and (iii) changes in women's participation in earnings activities had little to do with changing gender differentials in survival.