An Increase in the Sex Ratio of Births to India-born Mothers in England and Wales: Evidence for Sex-Selective Abortion
Male preference in many Asian cultures results in discriminatory practices against females, including neglect and infanticide. This preference, together with the availability of prenatal sex determination and sex-selective abortion, has led to an increase in sex ratios at birth in China, India, and South Korea. The resulting expected gender imbalances raise ethical, demographic, and social concerns. We analyzed birth statistics to see whether similar trends are apparent among births to foreign-born mothers in England and Wales. Before 1990, sex ratios at birth were consistently nearly one point lower (104) for the three major Asian groups in Britain compared with mothers born in Western countries. This is inconsistent with previous suggestions that Asian populations have a higher "natural" sex ratio at birth. In the birth statistics since 1990, we find a four-point increase in the sex ratio at birth for mothers born in India, attributable particularly to an increase at higher birth orders, mirroring findings reported for India. This suggests that sex-selective abortion is occurring among mothers born in India and living in Britain. By contrast, no significant increase was observed for Pakistan-born and Bangladesh-born mothers, among whom male preference also exists. It seems that male preference in different cultures does not necessarily lead to sex-selective abortion. Copyright 2007 The Population Council, Inc..
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Volume (Year): 33 (2007)
Issue (Month): 2 ()
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