ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

Consequences Of Gender ImbalanceSubscribe to Consequences Of Gender Imbalance

Mapping the Adverse Consequences of Sex Selection and Gender Imbalance in India and China

Rapid fertility declines in China and India and the advent of technologies for sex determination have contributed to the birth of fewer girls. As a result, both countries today have an excess of males and a shortage of females. Much of the work on adverse sex ratios until now has largely dealt with the identification, patterns, and causes of skewed sex ratios, and not their consequences. This review examines the emerging literature on the social consequences of the gender imbalance, and the five papers that follow explore the relationship of sex ratios with other social dimensions.

The Effect of a Male Surplus on Intimate Partner Violence in India

Theories of the social consequences of imbalanced sex ratios posit that men will exercise strict control over women's behaviour when women's relationship options are plentiful and men's own options are limited. Using data from the third National Family and Health Survey, this paper investigates the effect of the community sex ratio on women's experience of intimate partner violence in India. Multilevel logistic regression models show that a relative surplus of men in a community increases the likelihood of physical abuse by husbands even after adjusting for various other individual, household, and geographic characteristics. Further evidence of control over women when there is a sex ratio imbalance is provided by the increased odds of husbands distrusting wives with money.

Signs of Change?

Attempting to ascertain whether the skewed sex ratio in three northern districts of India has led to a change in sex-selective behaviour and related practices, this study finds that a shortage of brides is associated with willingness to compromise on rules of clan exogamy, and with a reduced demand for dowry. There is also a shift in inheritance patterns and increased societal acceptance of husbands living with their wives' parents in uxorilocal residence. In addition, more women are likely to be aware of their legal entitlement to a share of their parents' property, and to give less importance to the cultural construct of a son preference. It has to be seen whether all this will bring about a long-term change in patriarchal social structures.

Marriage Squeeze and Mate Selection

The marriage squeeze in China, whereby the sex ratio imbalance leaves many males without a marriage partner, is not only about numbers, but also about how the institution of marriage is socially, economically, and politically underpinned. This paper uses the concept of ecology of choice in mate selection to demonstrate how different social processes and practices have ramifications on who can marry, who they can marry, and under what circumstances. It points to the historical and cultural practices of patrilineage, hypergamy, and concubinage, which contributed to a marriage squeeze long before the sex ratio at birth became an issue. It also examines how the policies of the Chinese Communist Party have affected social institutions related to marriage, reinforcing the marriage squeeze, and discusses the implications of this.

Sex Ratios, Cross-Region Marriages and the Challenge to Caste Endogamy in Haryana

In the wake of shortage of brides due to an imbalanced sex ratio, present-day Haryana is witnessing a rise in inter-caste marriages, mostly in the form of cross-region unions. This paper points out that such unions are accepted locally in the face of necessity. Although apprehensions have been raised about cross-region brides and their children facing caste discrimination, several studies have found this to be largely untrue. In cross-region marriages, the caste difference between the spouses is an important factor, not in terms of it being a ground for discrimination, but in terms of the adjustments that cross-region brides have to make to follow new caste practices after marriage.

Social Management of Gender Imbalance in China

With rapid social transition, gender imbalance has become one of the most significant issues of China's social management, raising many problems and challenges. Innovation in social management urgently needs the new perspective of a holistic governance framework. Based on the latest trends in gender imbalance, this paper reviews China's strategic policy responses and actions on the governance of the male-skewed sex ratio at birth. It then focuses on the "care for girls" campaign to analyse the current public policy system, and proposes a social management framework to address the gender imbalance
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