A Quantitative Economic and Social History of Ming-Qing China: Manchus, Mongols, and the Han Chinese
4: The Missing Daughters in Imperial China: Re-estimating the Survival of Daughters, 1350-1900
Sunday, March 27, 2022
9:00am – 10:30am EST
Virtual Paper Presenter(s)
Renmin University of China, China (People's Republic)
The strong son preference and the high rate of female infanticide in imperial China is not a hidden secret, but a well-documented phenomenon, which has already been investigated by James Lee and Feng Wang. This paper uses newly digitized genealogical records produced by six lineages in Zhejiang and Jiangsu provinces, spanning more than 500 years, covering 36456 people, in order to reinvestigate the survival and marriages of daughters in Ming-Qing China. The records include data by 5,814 fathers and their offspring, data including both sons and daughters. It finds that daughters were more likely to be under-reported than to be killed, and the omission of daughters was not random in compiling genealogies. The sex ratio of the recorded children in all six lineages is around 1.2:1, which is not abnormally skewed. The daughters were more likely to be omitted in the genealogy record in families with a large number of sons, rather than in families with a small number of sons. Daughters born into high social status families were also more likely to marry high-status men.