Siwan Anderson, Debraj Ray, 10 October 2015

The developing world has notoriously low female-to-male sex ratios, a phenomenon that has been described as ‘missing women’. It is argued that this is driven by parental preferences for sons, sex-selective abortion, and different levels of care during infancy. This column shows that these higher rates of female mortality continue into adulthood. It argues that being unmarried, especially through widowhood, can have substantial effects on relative rates of female mortality in the developing world.

David Bloom, Michael Kuhn, Klaus Prettner, 09 October 2015

There has been lots of discussion about economic growth in developing countries, improved health, and the link between health and growth. But does it matter whether it is men’s or women’s health that is improved? This column argues that it does – targeting health investments on women rather than on men is a strong lever for development policy.

Esther Ann Bøler, Beata Javorcik, Karen-Helene Ulltveit-Moe, 18 May 2015

The gender wage gap persists even in gender equal societies such as the Nordic countries. This column suggests that globalisation may play a role in that. The authors show that exporting firms have higher gender wage gaps although the effect is only present among college graduates. The heightened competition faced by exporters requires greater commitment and flexibility on the part of the workers, which leads to statistical gender discrimination.

Seema Jayachandran, Rohini Pande, 05 May 2015

Indian children are more likely to be malnourished than their counterparts in Sub-Saharan Africa, despite higher standards of living. This column uses data on child height – an anthropometric measure of net nutrition – from Africa and India to explore how parental gender preferences affect the likelihood of children being malnourished. Indian firstborn sons are found to have a height advantage over African firstborn sons, and the height disadvantage appears first in second-born children, increasing for subsequent births. This suggests that a preference for a healthy male heir influences fertility decisions and how parents allocate resources between their children.

Tomohiko Inui, Makiko Nakamuro, Kazuma Edamura, Junko Ozawa, 02 May 2015

In order to achieve sustainable growth, Japan should make an efficient use of its labour force. However, female labour force participation and the share of women in leading positions in Japan remain low. This column investigates the impact of board diversity on firms’ innovative activity using Japanese firm-level data. The findings suggest that board diversity is associated with innovation only for firms that have already acquired diverse management skills.

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