Aspects of Gender in Famine: Evidence from the Chinese Great Leap Forward Famine

Living reference work entry


It is important to consider gender in famine studies. This chapter reviews two gender issues which affect how famine impacts women versus men. The issues discussed are female mortality advantage during famine, and son preference in intrahouse resource allocation under extreme economic constraints. Both female mortality advantage and son preference imply that female survivors would be more negatively affected by famine than male survivors. Analysis of the Chinese Great Leap Forward Famine shows a greater negative impact on disability and illiteracy for women than for men. Exploring heterogeneities in son preference among different ethnic groups, further analysis shows the bigger negative impact on disability for women most plausibly reflects female morality advantage, whereas a decline in female education outcomes is probably better explained by the culture of son preference. The evidence that exposure to famine in utero increases the likelihood of disability and illiteracy later in life implies the importance of timely health and nutrition interventions for vulnerable pregnant women, infants, and small children. Moreover, policies aimed to help affected people during crisis shall be designed with gender in mind.


Chinese Great Leap Forward Famine Gender Female mortality advantage Son preference 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of International Affairs, Bush School of Government and Public ServiceTexas A & M UniversityCollege StationUSA

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