And what is it that has given these women this much bargaining power?
An ideal groom in this dusty farming village is a vegetarian, does not drink, has good prospects for a stable job and promises his bride-to-be an amenity in high demand: a toilet.
In rural India, many young women are refusing to marry unless the suitor furnishes their future home with a bathroom, freeing them from the inconvenience and embarrassment of using community toilets or squatting in fields.
About 665 million people in India -- about half the population -- lack access to latrines. But since a "No Toilet, No Bride" campaign started about two years ago, 1.4 million toilets have been built here in the northern state of Haryana, some with government funds, according to the state's health department.
Women's rights activists call the program a revolution as it spreads across India's vast and largely impoverished rural areas.
Son preference is exhibited in several parts of Asia and is even showing up among certain Asian groups in the United States. (See this graph.)
A societal preference for boys here has become an unlikely source of power for Indian women. The abortion of female fetuses in favor of sons — an illegal but widespread practice — means there are more eligible bachelors than potential brides, allowing women and their parents to be more selective when arranging a match.
In general, more boys than girls are born in the United States, by a ratio of 1.05 to 1. But among American families of Chinese, Korean and Indian descent, the likelihood of having a boy increased to 1.17 to 1 if the first child was a girl, according to the Columbia economists. If the first two children were girls, the ratio for a third child was 1.51 to 1 — or about 50 percent greater — in favor of boys.
Studies have not detected a similar preference for males among Japanese-Americans.It looks like the sex-ratio at birth among Chinese-Americans is similar to to that of China overall -- approximately 1.25 boys born for every girl. This is already creating a huge demographic time-bomb in China. With Asian-American women being the most likely people group to have an interracial marriage, these trends in the US may become increasingly problematic for Asian-American men as well.
With selective abortions of female fetuses among certain populations in the US, easy access to abortion appears to have a disproportionate impact on the gender it was claimed to protect.
(HT Stephen Dubner)