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      Does famine influence sex ratio at birth? Evidence from the 1959-1961 Great Leap Forward Famine in China.

      Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences

      China, Female, History, 20th Century, Humans, Male, Pregnancy, Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects, Retrospective Studies, Sex Ratio, Starvation, Time Factors

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          Abstract

          The current study examined the long-term trend in sex ratio at birth between 1929 and 1982 using retrospective birth histories of 310 101 Chinese women collected in a large, nationally representative sample survey in 1982. The study identified an abrupt decline in sex ratio at birth between April 1960, over a year after the Great Leap Forward Famine began, and October 1963, approximately 2 years after the famine ended, followed by a compensatory rise between October 1963 and July 1965. These findings support the adaptive sex ratio adjustment hypothesis that mothers in good condition are more likely to give birth to sons, whereas mothers in poor condition are more likely to give birth to daughters. In addition, these findings help explain the lack of consistent evidence reported by earlier studies based on the 1944-1945 Dutch Hunger Winter or the 1942 Leningrad Siege.

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          Most cited references 44

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          Natural Selection of Parental Ability to Vary the Sex Ratio of Offspring

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            Facultative adjustment of mammalian sex ratios in support of the Trivers-Willard hypothesis: evidence for a mechanism.

            Evolutionary theory predicts that mothers of different condition should adjust the birth sex ratio of their offspring in relation to future reproductive benefits. Published studies addressing variation in mammalian sex ratios have produced surprisingly contradictory results. Explaining the source of such variation has been a challenge for sex-ratio theory, not least because no mechanism for sex-ratio adjustment is known. I conducted a meta-analysis of previous mammalian sex-ratio studies to determine if there are any overall patterns in sex-ratio variation. The contradictory nature of previous results was confirmed. However, studies that investigated indices of condition around conception show almost unanimous support for the prediction that mothers in good condition bias their litters towards sons. Recent research on the role of glucose in reproductive functioning have shown that excess glucose favours the development of male blastocysts, providing a potential mechanism for sex-ratio variation in relation to maternal condition around conception. Furthermore, many of the conflicting results from studies on sex-ratio adjustment would be explained if glucose levels in utero during early cell division contributed to the determination of offspring sex ratios.
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              The Phantom Menace: Omitted Variable Bias in Econometric Research

               Kevin Clarke (2005)
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                22456881
                3367790
                10.1098/rspb.2012.0320

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