The age distribution of missing women in India

Siwan Anderson, Debraj Ray

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Relative to developed countries, there are far fewer women than men in India. Estimates suggest that among the stock of women who could potentially be alive today, over 25 million are "missing". Sex selection at birth and the mistreatment of young girls are widely regarded as key explanations. We provide a decomposition of missing women by age across the states. While we do not dispute the existence of severegender bias at young ages, our computations yield some striking findings. First, the vast majority of missing women in India are of adult age. Second, there is significant variation in the distribution of missing women by age across different states. Missing girls atbirth are most pervasive in some north-western states, but excess female mortality at older ages is relatively low. In contrast, some north-eastern states have the highest excess female mortality in adulthood but the lowest number of missing women at birth. The state-wise variation in the distribution of missing women across the age groups makes it very difficult to draw simple conclusions to explain the missing women phenomenon in India.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)87-95
    Number of pages9
    JournalEconomic and Political Weekly
    Issue number47-48
    StatePublished - Dec 1 2012

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Sociology and Political Science
    • Economics, Econometrics and Finance(all)
    • Political Science and International Relations


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