May 26, 2005


Owen has pointed me to an article which discusses the above misleading doctrine.
It all started when the Nobel laureate and economist Amartya Sen claimed in an essay that there were some 100 million "missing women" in Asia. Amartya Sen meant that the mistreatment of girl Childs and selective abortions in populous countries like China, India, Pakistan & Bangladesh lead to this unequal ratio of women and men comparing to the West. Sen might be true in some extent but I do not agree to the figures which seems highly hypothetical.

The biggest surprise is Emily Oster's (an economics graduate student at Harvard)
Hypothesis that the regions with the most hepatitis B were the regions with the most "missing" women. Researchers had found that a pregnant woman with hepatitis B is far more likely to have a baby boy than a baby girl. This soon-to-be-published paper try to establish the fate of roughly 50 million of Amartya Sen's missing women.

This doctrine is misleading according to me as there has never been instances of Hepatitis B epidemic in the regions specified (at least I know in Bangladesh). It is still a sexually transmitted disease like AIDS and in a closed society it is most unlikely to spread in a panic speed without others noticing.

Moreover, the government Expanded Program of Immunization (EPI) provides the costly Hepatitis B vaccination to all infants in Bangladesh free of charge. Even my daughter has completed the course within first 6 months. So I hope only future can tell that Emily Oster's hypothesis is wrong.

Selective abortion is not encouraged in India now-a-days. The law has forbidden the clinics to tell the sex of a child in an ultrasonography scan which I think is a bold move and extremely effective in rural population. I think this should be introduced in rural areas of Bangladesh too to be on the safer side.

I hope these measures will turn around the current trend of imbalance of men-women ratio in Asia.


Post a Comment