Cross posted from The Smoke-Filled Room
In 1990, Amartya Sen coined the term ‘missing women’ to denote the shortage of women contributing to the skewed sex ratios in Asia and Africa, where men outnumber women, in stark contrast to North America and Europe, where women outnumber men. Estimates of missing women were originally meant to represent some measure of the degree of gender discrimination. This discrimination was attributed to three main causes causes: sex-selective abortions, female infanticide, and the comparative neglect of female health and nutrition during childhood, which led to their deaths early in life.
In 2010, Anderson and Ray, used the Sen-Coale counterfactual, which compares birth and death ratios of men and women in developing countries to similar populations in developed countries, in order to examine the ratio of these missing women across both age and diseases levels. They found a wide variation in the pattern of these missing women between India and China.
“A large percentage of the missing women in China are located before birth and in infancy. We estimate that around 37–45% of the missing women in China are due to prenatal factors alone. But the numbers for India are more evenly distributed across the different age groups.”
In a more recent work in 2012, they further explore the unlikely distribution of missing women across India, and find that
“… a total of more than two million women in India are missing in a given year….First, the majority of missing women, in India die in adulthood. Our estimates demonstrate that roughly 12% of missing women are found at birth, 25% die in childhood, 18% at the reproductive ages, and 45% die at older ages.”
They also find a great deal of variation in the distribution of missing women by age group across the states: Punjab is the only state where the majority of missing women are found at birth, while Haryana and Rajasthan are the only two states where a majority of these missing women are either never born or die in childhood. Read More