The Making of Missing Girls: Comparative Evidence from Population Administrative Microdata of Three East Asian Populations, 1652-1945

Hao Dong, Peking University
Satomi Kurosu, Reitaku University
Wen-Shan Yang, Academia Sinica
James Z. Lee, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology

Excessive girl mortality in historical East Asia has been widely discussed. However, most empirical evidence remains limited to the description of aggregate patterns rather than analytics of micro-level family behaviors. Systematic comparisons on the birth timing/order differentials in the investment of parents and co-resident kin remains particularly rare. Our study supplements the literature with new comparative findings for three East Asian historical populations, where cultural preference for specific child sex and birth order were common and yet distinctive between each other. We take advantage of unique large-scale individual-level panel datasets transcribed from the imperial lineage records in China (1652–1936), local population registers in Japan (1716–1870), and household registration records in Taiwan (1906–1945). We examine and compare between populations the probability of female births and girl mortality risks by presence/absence of parents, male siblings, grandparents, and other kin, as well as their interaction effects with the girl’s birth position in relation to her same- and opposite-sex siblings.

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 Presented in Session 183. Roles of Kinship: Demographic Outcomes and Methodology