Foreword by Janet Yellen
Divorce, Abortion and Sex Ratio at Birth: The Effect of the Amended Divorce Law in China
Stanford University presents a discussion with Ang Sun on whether and to what extent the relative circumstances of men and women following marital dissolution affect sex selection behavior within marriages.
2011-12 Asia Health Policy Fellow, Stanford University
This research explores whether and to what extent the relative circumstances of men and women following marital dissolution affect sex selection behavior within marriages. China's new divorce law, which was enacted in 2001, reduced divorce costs, especially for women, by granting the right to divorce and claim damages in the case of domestic violence and extra-marital relationships and by securing women's property rights upon divorce. I model the legal change as a decrease in women's divorce costs in a household in which all the marital surplus accrues to the husband. I show: (1) that the new divorce law predicts an increase in divorce rates after the birth of a daughter; (2) that the new law results in fewer sex-selective abortions for the second birth if the first birth produced a daughter; and (3) that the effect of the new law on the sex ratio should have diminishing returns to divorce cost reduction for women. All the predictions are supported by the empirical evidence. Most importantly, I find that most of the decline occurred in historically high divorce-cost regions, which is consistent with the predictions of the model and helps rule out concomitant changes in household income and relative returns to male and female children.
Ang Sun receives her PhD from Brown University’s department of economics. Sun’s research interests encompass development economics, labor and demographic economics, and health economics. She focuses on intra-household allocations, gender differences, and household formation. In particular, she studies how a combination of different forces in China—including traditional values, rapid growth, and the population structure—is affecting Chinese families.
China and the state of California have built deep and interdependent socioeconomic exchanges that reverberate across the globe, and these interactions make California a microcosm of the most important international relationship of the twenty-first century. In his book, journalist Matt Sheehan chronicles the real people who are making these connections.