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Socioeconomic Consequences of Fertility Decline and Rising Child Sex Ratios in China

  • 2009-2010
  • Project
Das Gupta, Monica, World Bank

Study: “Socioeconomic Consequences of Fertility Decline and Rising Child Sex Ratios in China”
PI(s): Das Gupta, Monica
Co-PI(s): Ebenstein, Avraham; Sharygin, Ethan Jennings
Affiliation(s): World Bank
Institutional Partner(s): World Bank
Project Dates:
Start: 2009
End: 2010
Data Source(s): China Censuses
Methods: Simulation Model
Geographic Location(s): China

Fertility decline has fueled a sharp increase in the proportion of “missing girls” in China. This means there are an increasing number of males who will fail to marry and face old age without the support normally provided by wives and children. This study addresses the impact of rapid fertility decline and gender selection on China’s marriage market. Less-educated men experience higher rates of bachelorhood because women favor men with better prospects and migrate from poorer to wealthier areas. The researchers examine the anticipated effects of this combination of bride shortage and hypergamy (“marrying up”) for different regions in China. Using censuses from 1982 to 2005 and secondary data from surveys, the researchers predict which groups of men are least likely to marry, and where they will cluster geographically. The projections suggest a national average of about 20 percent of men who are unable to marry, and indicate that unmarried males will likely be concentrated in poorer provinces that are unable to provide social protection to their citizens, where the unmarried cluster will face up to twice or greater than the national average. Such a concentration of unmarried males in these areas could be socially disruptive, and the findings suggest a need to expand the coverage of government-financed social protection programs. One policy implication is that the financing and administration of these programs will need to be significantly altered if they are to provide a meaningful safety net for those aging without the support of wives and children.

Research Outputs:
DasGupta, Monica, Ebenstein, Avraham, & Sharygin, Ethan J. (2010). China’s marriage market and upcoming challenges for elderly men (World Bank Policy Research Working Paper No. 5351). DOI: 10.1596/1813-9450-5351

Sharygin, Ethan, Ebenstein, Avraham & Das Gupta, Monica. (2012). Implications of China’s future bride shortage for the geographic distribution and social protection needs of never-married men. Population Studies: A Journal of Demography, 67(1), 39-59. DOI: 10.1080/00324728.2012.723893

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