Sex selection - micro-level drivers and enabling/preventive factors (GSDRC Helpdesk Research Report)

Abstract

Query

(1) What are the micro-level drivers of sex selection in Asia? How do these differ between countries, states and sub-regions? (Focus primarily on South Asia, China and SE Asia); (2) What are the key contributing factors that enable or prevent sex selection? How do these differ between countries, states and sub-regions?

Key findings

Prenatal sex selection results in distorted sex ratios at birth (SRB). In many countries there are currently 110-120 male births per 100 female births (in contrast to the standard biological level of 104-106 male births). Postnatal sex selection also persists in several countries, measured by excess deaths among female infants and young girls. Sex selection is prevalent not only in China and India, but also in other Asian countries, such as Vietnam and Taiwan. Such practices are more common in higher birth orders (second and upward), particularly if the first child is a girl.

Son preference is commonly cited as the primary factor behind sex selection. In order to understand the origins and persistence of son preference, it is important to look at the drivers of sex selection, which can be divided into two categories: social norms and structures; and the characteristics of the individual woman and her household. In the first case, son preference is commonly associated with the patriarchal societies of many Asian countries. There is, however, debate about the extent to which religion plays a role in son preference and the influence of caste in India. Regarding household and individual characteristics, for example legal limits on family size have been identified as drivers of sex selection. The role of socio-economic status has also been widely discussed.

Citation

Haider, H. Sex selection - micro-level drivers and enabling/preventive factors (GSDRC Helpdesk Research Report). Governance and Social Development Resource Centre, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK (2012) 32 pp.

Sex selection - micro-level drivers and enabling/preventive factors (GSDRC Helpdesk Research Report)

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