Does Religion Matter? A Study of Regional Variations in Sex Ratios at Birth in China

Yunping Tong , Purdue University

The sex ratio at birth in China has been increasingly imbalanced since the 1970s when the government implemented a policy to reduce population growth. To explain regional variations in the ratio, existing scholarship tends to focus on economic development for its weakening effect on the Confucian tradition of son preference. However, a perspective which focuses merely on economic development without considering the local religious context yields only a limited understanding of the causes of imbalanced ratios. Considering the rapid growth of religion in China, it is of considerable interest to explore if religion shapes sex ratios at birth. This project bridges this scholarly gap by examining the association between county sex ratios at birth and the presence of each religion using census data. Applying a spatial error model, this study shows that ratios in counties with more Daoist organizations tend to more imbalanced, while those with more Buddhist and Islamic organizations less imbalanced.

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 Presented in Session 204. Spatial and Contextual Effects on Reproductive Health and Fertility