Thursday, March 10, 2005

Cash for Parents of Girls

In the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh parents who have girls will get money from the government:

Families having a single girl child in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh will be given 100,000 rupees ($2,300) in an attempt to boost the female population.

The money will be given to the child when she turns 20 and both parents would have to undergo verified birth control operations.

The state government says it is concerned at the falling female-to-male ratio - in 2001 it was 943 to 1,000.

The rise in sex determination tests to abort female foetuses is also a worry.

The quote is a little confusing because the program appears to combine birth control with the cash program.

Andhra Pradesh is one of those Indian areas where the ability to determine the fetus's sex has led to a dearth of girls. Indian families rely on their sons for old-age security and the tradition of large dowries for brides makes having daughters an expensive proposition. Because some of the reasons why girls are not wanted are financial the idea to combat them with money might work, if the net effect of the program would make sons and daughters equally expensive for parents.

But it makes more sense in the long run to abolish the tradition of dowries and the tradition of sons taking care of their parents. I'm not sure how this could be accomplished without building a welfare state for the whole country. Surely it is the presence of pension schemes and general education for both boys and girls that has made the preference for sons less in the Western countries?

Something probably needs to be done about this problem in both China and India, though, or these countries will have a large number of perpetual bachelors. It would be better if girls were valued for their own sake, of course, and not just as future wives of the extra men.