Female Migration, Cultural Context, and Son Preference in Rural China

Lu, Yao; Tao, Ren

How does female out-migration reconfigure gender values surrounding son preference in origin communities? We propose that the feminization of migration has the potential to infuse origin communities with economic and ideational changes that may challenge son preference. Rural China provides an interesting setting, both because its unprecedented labor out-migration has increasingly included women and because of its persistent son preference. Using data from rural China and instrumental variable regressions to adjust for potential endogeneity bias, this study shows that out-migration of women, but not of men, attenuates son preference among those in origin communities. The role of female out-migration transcends families with direct ties to migration and extends to the entire village. However, cultural context and family positions within that context condition the role of female migration: specifically, the preferences of individuals in families and villages embedded in strong patrilineal cultural practices are less likely to be shaped by female out-migration.

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Also Published In

Population Research and Policy Review

More About This Work

Academic Units
Social Work
Springer Netherlands
Published Here
October 23, 2015