XXVII IUSSP International Population Conference
"The implementation of preferences for male offspring"
Over the past quarter century the sex ratio at birth (SRB) has risen above natural levels in a number of countries, mostly in Asia. This rise has been made possible by the increasing availability of safe, effective and inexpensive technologies to determine the sex of a fetus and to abort unwanted pregnancies in countries with son preferences. This paper documents levels and trends in the sex ratio at birth, in preferences for male offspring (using information on desired number of girls and boys) and in the implementation of these preferences. DHS surveys from 63 countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America and for Indian states are the main source of data. A comparison of desired with actual SRBs finds large gaps in most populations, implying a substantial unmet need for sex selective abortion. Two types of preference implementation are considered: the use of contraception to stop childbearing after the desired number of sons has been born and the use of sex selective abortion to avoid female births. The second part of the paper discusses a range of factors that could raise of lower the SRB and their implications for future trends.
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