Estimating the Private Economic Benefits of Sons Versus Daughters in India

Daniel Rosenblum

In order to understand the economic incentives behind gender discrimination in India, this paper provides the first estimates of the magnitude of the economic benefits of having a son instead of a daughter. The study estimates large gains from a first-born son to per capita income and expenditure, household assets, and a reduction in the probability the household is below the poverty line. Estimates show that a first-born son may provide economic advantages through a reduction in total children born and also from an adult son’s labor supply contribution to his parents’ household. The observed pattern of incentives is also compared with observed patterns in sex selection as a test of whether the relative economic value of first-born sons and daughters can explain the prevalence of sex-selective abortion.

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