Recent evidence on child mortality and fertility trends in the community known as Karimpur in the north Indian state of Uttar Pradesh presents a troubling puzzle: the female children of the poor are now dying at a much more rapid rate than their brothers. In this community, sex-specific child mortality is not new. What is new is the increasing female bias in child mortality among the poor. My contention is that this trend can only be understood in the larger context of family composition strategies, strategies which have changed due to the socio-economic changes wrought by the green revolution and other development programs of the past 25 years. Moreover, mortality cannot be understood without also considering fertility behavior and the overall shape of the resulting families. My hypothesis is that the Karimpur poor are using high fertility and sex-specific child mortality to maximize the number of surviving males in attempting to insure family welfare. © 1993.
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