India: Patrilinear culture & Female Foeticide continue to account for the disappearing Girl Child Print E-mail

 Tuesday November 24, 2015


Data put the Indian desire for male child in stark relief

By  Rukmini S.

 "Among families with one to four children, more boys are born than girls." (AP)

India is going through a radical demographic transition, but new data from the Census show that one thing remains the same -- the desire for a male child.

Around 290 million women have had at least one child, the data show, with two being the most common number of children in a family -- a testament to falling fertility rates in India. The drop from number of two-child families to the number of families with more children is much sharper now than it was a decade ago. In fact, there were more families with over six children 10 years ago despite population growth.

Bring in gender dynamics, however, and an extremely complicated picture emerges. Among families with one to four children, more boys are born than girls. The unnatural advantage for boy babies is particularly sharp among families with two children -- half of such families have one boy and one girl, a third have two boys and just one-sixth have two girls. Even given the slight birth advantage that boys enjoy (in nature, there is a slightly higher likelihood of males being born than females), such sharply skewed sex ratios are a clear indication of unnatural processes, most likely pre-natal sex selection.

Among families with more than four children, a sudden reversal begins to take place, as girls become more common than boys. What’s going on here? Families that are unable to practise sex selection, or choose not to, are likely to continue with more pregnancies in the hope of a male child, demographers explain. So large families are more likely to have more girls, as the desire for a male child is what is spurring the size of the family.

What’s more, it’s clear that as family sizes got smaller over the last decade, these processes have only intensified. The magnitude of disparity between small families with more boys than girls and large families with more girls than boys has sharpened between 2001 and 2011.

As India pushes on ahead with its aim of reducing family sizes, it’s going to need to consider the significant impact it’s having on gender dynamics.

Tuesday November 24, 2015

Male child still preferred, shows Census data

By Rukmini S

New Census data indicates that two processes around the preference for a male child are going on simultaneously in India ­ prenatal sex determination and repeated pregnancies. Data on family sizes and sex ratios released on Monday showed that at every family size, there were more boys born than girls.

However as family sizes got bigger, the sex ratio within the family got much less skewed, indicating that families with fewer or no sons were the ones choosing to have repeated pregnancies.

Among women who had one child, 22 million said they had a girl and 28.5 million had a boy, clearly indicating a disproportionately large number of boys being born. Among women who had given birth to two children, 26 million had two boys while just half that number ­ 13.3 million ­ had two girls.

This was similarly the case among families with three children ­ families with all three boys or two boys and a girl were far more common than families with all three girls or two girls and a boy.

However at higher family sizes, this dynamic begins to change, as families that cannot or do not practise prenatal sex selection have repeated pregnancies in their quest for a son, a senior Census official explained.

Families with six children, for instance, are nearly as likely to have all six girls than all six boys, the data show.

As families get larger, the survival odds of girl children also begin to falter, the data shows. Among families where the woman had given birth to one child, the odds of the girl child surviving were slightly higher than the odds of the boy surviving, partly explained by the lower natural infant mortality of girls. Among families with two children, survival odds for girls worsened but were still comparable.

However among families with six children, the odds of the survival of daughters fell sharply.