Population Research and Policy Review

, Volume 31, Issue 6, pp 777–795

India’s ‘Missing Women’ and Men’s Sexual Risk Behavior


DOI: 10.1007/s11113-012-9248-3

Cite this article as:
South, S.J., Trent, K. & Bose, S. Popul Res Policy Rev (2012) 31: 777. doi:10.1007/s11113-012-9248-3


Although scholars and policymakers have long been concerned with the “missing women” of India, little rigorous research has examined the consequences of India’s sex ratio imbalance for young men’s sexual risk behavior and reproductive health. We use data from the third wave of India’s 2005–2006 National Family and Health Survey to examine the influence of the community female-to-male sex ratio at ages 10–39 on men’s likelihood of marrying early in life, of engaging in premarital, multi-partnered, and commercial sex, and of contracting a sexually-transmitted disease. We estimate logistic regression models that control for respondents’ demographic and socioeconomic status and that adjust for the clustering of observations within communities. Net of the effects of other characteristics, the female-to-male sex ratio is positively and significantly associated with the likelihood that men marry prior to age 18 and inversely and significantly associated with the odds that men have had intercourse with a commercial sex worker. However, no significant net associations are observed between the sex ratio and the other outcomes. Education, wealth, religious affiliation, caste, and geographic region emerge as significant predictors of Indian men’s sexual risk behaviors.


Sex ratio Sexual behavior India Marriage Commercial sex STD 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Sociology, Center for Social and Demographic AnalysisUniversity at Albany, State University of New YorkAlbanyUSA
  2. 2.Department of SociologyState University of New York at New PaltzNew PaltzUSA

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