Nationally, the sex ratio at birth in Bangladesh has persisted at its
natural level of 105 male per 100 female newborns for the past half
century. However, at the regional level, Bangladesh is characterised by
an east-west divide in sex ratios at birth. While the western region
shows normal sex ratios at birth, the eastern region displays distorted
sex ratios. To understand the factors that contribute to regional
variations in the sex ratio at birth, primary research has been
conducted that comprised a household survey among married women aged
18-49 years who had at least two living children, the youngest of which
was aged 0-5. Views of service providers on gender-biased sex selection
and of program implementers on the impact of gender-focused programs on
the importance of having daughter in the family were also gathered.
The study was located in the Comilla district from the eastern region
which had adverse sex ratio at birth and the Rangpur district from the
western region having normal sex ratio. Caution should be exercised in
interpreting the findings, as the size of the sample interviewed (1,037
women) was not adequate to reach a conclusion. Further studies are
needed with a large enough sample that findings on differentials across
characteristics can be generalized.
Women in both study districts exhibited a strong culture of low
fertility, that is, a strong preference for a two-child family. The
practice of disclosing the sex of the fetus is widespread in both study
districts but the practice of sex-selective abortion was almost entirely
absent, and women strongly opposed gender-biased pregnancy termination.
Despite these similarities, findings suggest a stronger desire for a
male child in Comilla than Rangpur. In Comilla, the sex of living
children had an effect on its desire of women for more children and use
of contraception. Overall, the findings are inconclusive and mixed.
There is a need for further research covering several other pockets that
have distorted sex ratios at birth.
Noorunnabi Talukder, M.; Ubaidur Rob; Hossain, M.I.; Forhana Rahman Noor. Understanding Factors Influencing Adverse Sex Ratios at Birth in Bangladesh. Population Council, Dhaka, Bangladesh (2015) xi + 39 pp.
Understanding Factors Influencing Adverse Sex Ratios at Birth in Bangladesh