Discussion paper

DP18761 Culture, Economic Stress, and Missing Girls

Cultural norms play a pivotal role in shaping how societies respond to crises. This study examines the causal effect of ethnic-specific gender norms on gender-biased mortality during resource shocks. Studying the 1891-1892 Russian famine, we compare cohorts born before and after the famine in districts differentially affected by the famine and with diverse gender norms. Our findings reveal that areas where women were depicted more negatively suffered a more skewed sex ratio favouring male survival. Our empirical exercise further stresses the importance of the cultural channel in driving these results and emphasizes the role of agency in survival outcomes. This study sheds light on the profound influence of cultural norms on survival-relevant decisions during crises, pointing at culturally ingrained channels of discrimination.


Malein, V, T Matiashvili and F Beltrán Tapia (2024), ‘DP18761 Culture, Economic Stress, and Missing Girls‘, CEPR Discussion Paper No. 18761. CEPR Press, Paris & London. https://cepr.org/publications/dp18761