Hepatitis B plays a vital role in female mortality, second only to infanticide in Asian countries, finds a new study.
Emily Oster, a graduate student of economics at Harvard University, found that infanticide may not be the only cause of the uncommonly high male to female ratios in many Asian countries, reports science portal EurekAlert.
Hepatitis B is common in many Asian countries, particularly China, where some 10 to 15 percent of the population is infected.
Oster presents new evidence in the forthcoming issue of the Journal of Political Economy that carriers of the hepatitis B virus are 1.5 times more likely to have a male child.
It has long been observed that the relative number of males is higher in certain Asian countries than in the West where it is close to unity. A number of authors have suggested that this imbalance reflects the neglect of female children and poor conditions for women.
But Oster found that hepatitis B can account for as many as 50 percent of the