According to Census 2011, sex ratio in India in the age-group 0-6 declined to 914 females per 1000 males from 927 per 1000 males reported in Census 2001. The sex ratio 0-6 age group examines the latest trend, and it captures the trend since 2004. The declining sex ratio has definitely alarmed demographers and policymakers about societal reluctance toward a female child. And the question is, does high economic growth which leads to socio-economic development helps to improve sex-ratio?
Studies have estimated that there are 30-70 million missing women in India. Out of this total, the last decade (2000-10) alone accounts for about 8 million missing women. The concept of missing women is credited to Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen, who identified female foeticide as its main cause. The number of missing women was calculated using the standard sex-ratio at birth: 950 females per 1000 males. The impact of this trend will be felt for more than 50 years, particularly by way of shortage of brides, perhaps increased violence against women, as also further unrest in society. Earlier, the problem was predominantly confined to Northern India, Punjab and Haryana, but it has spread across India, barring the likes of the Northeast and Kerala.
Two recently published studies have concluded that socio-economic development helps to improve the sex ratio: Dr Monica Das Guptas on South Korea and Dr Christophe Z Guilmotos on China. Both countries had experienced one of the lowest sex ratios in the world. Dr Das found that development works largely through normative changes across the whole society (rather than just through changes in individuals as their socio-economic circumstances changed) and hypothesised that India may also reverse the current trend if it is able to maintain same level of development.
To understand the widely acclaimed phenomenon of inclusive growth in terms of the sex ratio, we examined the sex ratio at birth (SRB): birth of children in last one year. We conducted our analysis by dividing consumption expenditure categories into three groups--upper, middle, and lower--for 2004-05 and 2009-10, using the NSS survey. The period experienced an average 8.7% of annual GDP growth, and 7.0% per capita growth in income.
Though the consumption expenditure survey has its own limitation, ipso facto it may utilised to examine a recent trend where SRB declined to 911 per 1000 males in 2009-10 from 927 in 2004-05. Census data has also revealed a similar trend. The highest decline in