Half Sky over China:Women's Political Participation and Sex Imbalances: 1950 - 1990
E2016009 August 2016
Yang Yao & Wuyue You*
The National School of Development & China Center for Economic Research
With data coming mainly from 1,200 county chronicles, this paper studies how women’s political participation affected the sex ratio in China in 1950–90. It is found that women’s political participation, measured by the ratio of female members in the Chinese Communist Party, increased the female-male population ratio in 1950–90. This result remains when female party membership in individual periods is instrumented by female party membership in 1950, which was invariant to cultural norms toward women. A more significant effect is found on children than on adults. This result is further confirmed by a study of the sex of second births, using the one-child policy as a natural experiment. Further exploration finds that the positive impact of women’s political participation was more likely to be a result of its influence on societal perceptions about women than on government policy.
Keywords: women’s political participation, sex imbalances, social norms
JEL classification: J16, N35, P35
Download the full text E2016009.pdf