, Volume 57, Issue 3, pp 459-465
Date: 17 Jun 2011

Son preference and sex-selective abortion in China: informing policy options

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Abstract

Objectives

There is growing evidence in China that son preference is on the decline, but the sex ratio at birth is still the highest in the world at around 120 male births to 100 females. The aim of the study was to explore attitudes towards gender preference among people of reproductive age, to determine the reasons why the sex ratio is persistently high, and to inform policy options.

Methods

We conducted in-depth interviews with 212 individuals who aged from 18 to 39 in rural and urban areas of three provinces: Yunnan, Guizhou and Zhejiang.

Results

We show that while son preference has weakened considerably, it has not disappeared. The sex ratio remains high, because of this small minority of individuals, who still choose sex-selective abortion to ensure male offsprings.

Conclusions

Intensive local policy interventions have been successful in reducing the sex ratio in some areas and these should be disseminated widely. In addition, the law forbidding sex selection should be actively enforced, and the One Child Policy should be relaxed in some areas, to reduce the disproportionately high sex ratio in the second order births.