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Soc Sci Med. 2006 Jan;62(2):360-74. Epub 2005 Jul 20.

Gender imbalance in infant mortality: a cross-national study of social structure and female infanticide.

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Department of Sociology, The Ohio State University, 300 BrickerHall, Columbus, 43210, USA.


Sex differentials in infant mortality vary widely across nations. Because newborn girls are biologically advantaged in surviving to their first birthday, sex differentials in infant mortality typically arise from genetic factors that result in higher male infant mortality rates. Nonetheless, there are cases where mortality differentials arise from social or behavioral factors reflecting deliberate discrimination by adults in favor of boys over girls, resulting in atypical male to female infant mortality ratios. This cross-national study of 93 developed and developing countries uses such macro-social theories as modernization theory, gender perspectives, human ecology, and sociobiology/evolutionary psychology to predict gender differentials in infant mortality. We find strong evidence for modernization theory, human ecology, and the evolutionary psychology of group process, but mixed evidence for gender perspectives.

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