Causal effects of sex preference on sex-blind and sex-selective child avoidance and substitution across birth years: Evidence from the Japanese year of the fire horse

Chris Rohlfs, Alexander Reed, Hiroyuki Yamada

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

15 Citations (Scopus)


This paper examines the effect of a short-term change in preference for male offspring on couples' childbearing and child-avoidance behaviors. We exploit a natural experiment in Japan in which girls born in a specific astrological year are regarded as less desirable. We relate this superstition to an economic model of child avoidance. We measure the relative importance of sex-selective and sex-blind child avoidance responses nationwide and across geographic areas and the degree of substitutability of children across birth years in Japan in 1846, 1906, and 1966, and we examine how these responses interacted with the economic and social development of Japan over this period.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)82-95
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Development Economics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2010 May 1



  • Abortion
  • Astrological
  • Contraceptive
  • Fertility
  • Fire horse
  • Hinoeuma
  • Infanticide
  • Japan
  • Sex-selective
  • Zodiac

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Development
  • Economics and Econometrics

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