Why are More Boys Born During War?: Evidence from Germany at Mid Century

14 Pages Posted: 12 Dec 2009

See all articles by Michael Kvasnicka

Michael Kvasnicka

RWI Essen (Berlin Office)

Dirk Bethmann

Queensland University of Technology - School of Economics and Finance

Date Written: November 1, 2009

Abstract

In belligerent countries, male-to-female sex ratios at birth increased during and shortly after the two world wars. These rises still defy explanation. Several causes have been suggested (but not tested) in the literature. Many of these causes are proximate in nature, reflecting behavioral responses to the dramatically changed marriage market conditions for women and men that were induced by war-related declines in adult sex ratios. Based on county-level census data for the German state of Bavaria in the vicinity and aftermath of World War II, we explore the reduced-form relationship between changes in adult and off spring sex ratios. Our results suggest that war-induced shortfalls of men significantly increased the percentage of boys among newborns.

Keywords: World War II, adult sex ratio, sex ratio at birth

JEL Classification: J12, J13, N34

Suggested Citation

Kvasnicka, Michael and Bethmann, Dirk, Why are More Boys Born During War?: Evidence from Germany at Mid Century (November 1, 2009). Ruhr Economic Paper No. 154, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1514383 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1514383

Michael Kvasnicka (Contact Author)

RWI Essen (Berlin Office) ( email )

Hohenzollernstr. 1-3
Berlin, 45128
Germany

Dirk Bethmann

Queensland University of Technology - School of Economics and Finance ( email )

GPO Box 2434
2 George Street
Brisbane, Queensland 4001
Australia

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