Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

How serious is son preference in China?

Date:
June 14, 2011
Source:
Lund University
Summary:
Why are female fetuses aborted in China? Does an increase in the number of abortions of female fetuses reflect an increase in son preference? A sociologist from Sweden has studied why families in China have a preference for sons.

Why are female foetuses aborted in China? Does an increase in the number of abortions of female foetuses reflect an increase in son preference? Sociologist Lisa Eklund from Lund University in Sweden has studied why families in China have a preference for sons.

Related Articles


At the time of the census in 2005, almost 121 boys were born for every 100 girls. Last year's census showed that sex ratio at birth (SRB) had improved somewhat. But it is still too early to celebrate, in Eklund's view: the narrowing of the gap does not necessarily mean that girls are valued more highly.

Because of the high SRB, there has been a tendency to picture China as a country where son preference is strong and possibly increasing since the 1980s. However, Eklund argues in her PhD thesis that using SRB as a proxy indicator for son preference is problematic. She has therefore developed a model to estimate what she calls "son compulsion," where data on SRB and total fertility rate are used to estimate the proportion of couples who wants to give birth to at least one son and who take action to achieve that goal. When looking at variation in son compulsion over time and between regions, Eklund finds that new patterns emerge that do not surface when using SRB as a proxy indicator. Contrary to popular belief, son compulsion remained steady in rural China (at around 10 per cent) while it increased in urban China in the 1990s (from 2.8 per cent to 4.5 per cent).

"This doubling concurred in time with cuts in the state welfare system in the cities, which meant that adult sons were given a more important role in providing for the social and financial security of the elderly," she says. Her findings call into question the assumption that son preference is essentially a rural issue. They also have implications for comparative perspectives and her findings suggest that son compulsion may be higher in other countries even though they expose lower SRB.

When it emerged that far more boys than girls were being born in China, the Chinese government launched the Care for Girls Campaign to improve the value of the girl child and to prevent sex-selective abortion. Nonetheless, the imbalance between the sexes continued to increase. Eklund's findings suggest that the campaign may actually have done more harm than good. Families receive extra support if they have girls and in rural areas exceptions are made from the one-child policy if the first child is a girl.

"By compensating parents of girls in various ways, the government reinforces the idea that girls are not as valuable as boys," says Eklund.

Eklund further challenges the notion that families in rural areas want sons because sons are expected to take over the farming.

"That is a weak argument," says Eklund. "Young people, both men and women, are moving away from rural areas. Of those who stay, women provide just as much help as men. In fact, it is the elderly who end up taking greater responsibility for the agriculture."

However, there are also other reasons why sons are seen as more important for families. Traditionally, a girl moves in with her husband's family when she gets married and she thus cannot look after her own parents when they grow old. Boys also play an important role in ancestor worship, and they ensure that the family name lives on.

Eklund further finds that there is a stubbornness in both popular and official discourses to view son preference as a matter of parents and grandparents without looking at structural factors that help underpin the institution of son preference.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Lund University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Lund University. "How serious is son preference in China?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 June 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110614141458.htm>.
Lund University. (2011, June 14). How serious is son preference in China?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110614141458.htm
Lund University. "How serious is son preference in China?." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110614141458.htm (accessed December 21, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Science & Society News

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

After Sony Hack, What's Next?

After Sony Hack, What's Next?

Reuters - US Online Video (Dec. 19, 2014) The hacking attack on Sony Pictures has U.S. government officials weighing their response to the cyber-attack. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sierra Leone Bikers Spread the Message to Fight Ebola

Sierra Leone Bikers Spread the Message to Fight Ebola

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) More than 100 motorcyclists hit the road to spread awareness messages about Ebola. Nearly 7,000 people have now died from the virus, almost all of them in west Africa, according to the World Health Organization. Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Spokesman: 'NORAD Ready to Track Santa'

Spokesman: 'NORAD Ready to Track Santa'

AP (Dec. 19, 2014) Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby said that NORAD is ready to track Santa Claus as he delivers gifts next week. Speaking tongue-in-cheek, he said if Santa drops anything off his sleigh, "we've got destroyers out there to pick them up." (Dec. 19) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Navy Unveils Robot Fish

Navy Unveils Robot Fish

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Dec. 18, 2014) The U.S. Navy unveils an underwater device that mimics the movement of a fish. Tara Cleary reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Science & Society

Business & Industry

Education & Learning

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins