Introduction The construction and analysis of population sex ratios has played an important role in guiding gender studies and the feminist movement in India. The landmark Towards Equality report in 1974 discussed sex ratios and the possible reasons for its decline over the twentieth century (GoI 1974). Since then, over 200 studies have analysed the determinants, patterns and trends of sex ratios at the national and subnational levels. This scholarship has dealt with the theme of ‘missing women’, a term coined by Amartya Sen (Sen 1990), reflecting female deficits arising due to gender discrimination through excess female mortality and sex-selective abortion.1 The literature on India has focused mainly on child sex ratios in order to cut out the effect of sex-selective migration at higher-age groups (Miller 1981, Dyson and Moore 1983, Agnihotri 2000).