Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A Case Study in the Two Phases of History

This Globe and Mail article about sex-selection abortions in India serves as yet another reminder that Mark Shea was on to something when he identified the Two Phases of History.

The Two Phases of History, you may recall, are:

1. What could it hurt?
2. How could we have known?

From the article:

But $100 on the birth of a girl – or even $2,500 at her marriage – means nothing to the country's wealthiest families. And that is where the gender gulf is yawning most deeply. The richest neighbourhoods in the country – the wealthy farming areas of the Punjab, the middle-class areas of Mumbai and other cities, and here, the leafy neighbourhoods in the south of the capital – have the biggest gaps.

High-caste families in urban areas of the Punjab have just 300 girls for every 1,000 boys, researchers financed by Canada's International Development Research Centre (IDRC) reported last year. In South Delhi, it's 832 girls born per 1,000 boys; in the state of Haryana, home to the high-tech hub of Gurgaon, it's 822. (In “normal” circumstances, demographers expect to find 950 to 1,000 girls born for every 1,000 boys).

Conventional wisdom has long held that as India develops – as more families struggle their way into the middle class, more girls go to school and more women join the work force – traditional ideas about the lesser value of girls will erode. The incentive to abort them would fall away.

Instead, the opposite has happened, and the reasons – and solutions – have government and activists stumped.

[HT: JivinJ]

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