Missing women, conflicts and natural disasters: The Special Case of Pakistan

Sehar Ezdi

The number of missing women in the population of Pakistan in 2015 amounted to approximately 4.4 million. The age distribution of this female deficit (i.e. 40+ population) suggests that the collective exposure of selected birth cohorts to deleterious events (i.e. conflicts and natural disasters) may have precipitated a surge in female vis-a-vis male mortality. To address this, this paper first collects gender and age disaggregated (wherever possible) mortality statistics arising from conflicts and natural disasters that have occurred throughout the history of Pakistan (since independence) and evaluates their impact on the sex ratios (male/female) of the population by age. Subsequently, it analyses the historical sex ratio pathway by age to assess how said events may have caused deviations from the pathway. The analysis reveals that conflicts and natural disasters (independently or in the aggregate) have had no impact on the missing women phenomenon in Pakistan. Nevertheless, it points to the severity and persistence of the missing women phenomenon throughout the history of Pakistan especially in the elderly (60+) population and the possibility of its endurance in future cohorts of elderly population in the country.

Published in Asian Population Studies