The figures from the last census in India point to an imbalanced sex ratio that in this country there were 109 males for every 100 females under the age of six, up from 107 in 2001… and increasing.
The imbalanced sex ratio in India calls my attention because having a male son is very important for the role they play as a traditional supporter of the family, while the female has a more family-house oriented role. At the same time, India is statistically considered one of the most dangerous countries in the world due to the evidence of femicides.
According to a 2011 study by the Center for Global Health Research in Canada, between 4.2 million and 12.1 million girls were aborted during the last three decades in this country. Some studies point that there is a common myth that daughters don’t benefit their families, I guess as a tradeoff of a productive economic activity perspective.
I would like to think it’s the lower uneducated classes who invest their life savings in educating the son, while the daughter is left at home for housekeeping activities. Upper-class families with money and access to ultrasound could potentially use this technology for sex determination purposes, something illegal in India if used for that particular matter. So then the reasons for deciding to have a boy over a girl is not exactly monetary, but traditional.
What I can conclude so far, and this is a very personal point of view, is that females are considered more a liability than an asset to a typical Indian family. But again, I hope this happens in the traditional lower levels of societies and that things in modern times are changing.
The reasons for this sociocultural phenomenon can have its roots in other fundamentals, such as poverty. But for the time being, I’m just trying to bring a picture of the story to the people that have never been to India. In fact, the ultimate reason why this calls my attention is not really for those people, but for simple market reasons. Let me explain…
In India the tradition for marriage, apart from that it is most likely arranged between the parents, is that the family of the bride has to contribute with a dowry. This is can be in the form of money, goods, or properties that a woman brings forth to the marriage. So then the question is how in the world this whole dowry thing is, at least statistically, a nonsense exception to the basic supply and demand rule, where:
The “shortage” of females represents a movement (decrease) along the Quantity Axis to the left (arrow 1), which inversely affects the Y-Axis, as explained in arrow 2, pushing the price upwards.
So, why again do the family of the girl would have to pay when it’s actually the daughter who is the scarce “resource” in society? This brings us to the next stage of the evolution of the theory of trade which is precisely…?
You guessed, Import-Export, the way markets make up for their deficits or surpluses… but that is perhaps a topic for some other time… 😉
Don’t miss my article India in a Quick Retrospective.