Chinese culture has long favored sons over daughters. With the development of reproductive technology, the methods can be used not only in facilitation of conception, but also in sex-selective termination of pregnancies. Therefore, this study aimed to investigate: (1) the rate of pregnant expectancy/planning of children; (2) whether the Chinese cultural influence of son preference still exists, and factors effecting sex preference; and (3) whether artificial reproductive technology plays a role in parents giving birth to a child of their preferred sex. We used the Taiwan Birth Cohort Study dataset at six-months, which included 21,248 babies born in 2005. More mothers than fathers reported this pregnancy as unexpected (29.0% vs. 20.5%). Over half of the parents showed no preference for the sex of their child (mothers: 52.6%, fathers: 55.8%). However, among those who showed a preference, significantly more preferred sons than daughters (son preference, mothers: 24.8%, fathers: 24.3%; daughter preference, mothers: 22.5%, fathers: 19.9%). Additionally, structural equation modeling found that parents who had planned their pregnancy were more likely to prefer sons and less likely to prefer daughters. Parents who used artificial reproductive technology for conception were more likely to prefer and conceive sons. A preference for male children still exists in Taiwan, contributing to the high sex ratio at birth of 110 in our 2005 birth cohort. However, over half of the parents reported being neutral in the preference of the gender of their offspring. This suggests that Taiwan is moving toward a more gender-equitable society.
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There was no significant difference between the 110.31 birth sex ratio found in our study and the 109.04 birth sex ratio reported by the Ministry of Health and Welfare for 2005 (χ2 = 0.65, p = .421) (the year these babies were selected) (Ministry of Interior, Taiwan, 2017), showing that our sample was representative of the babies born that year.
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The authors would like to thank the researchers in the Taiwan Birth Cohort Study project, and the children and families that participated in this study.
This study was supported by grants from the Health Promotion Administration, Ministry of Health and Welfare (DOH93-HP-1702).
Conflict of interest
All authors have no conflict of interests to disclose.
Research involving Human Participants and/or Animals
All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the Taipei City Hospital Institutional Review Board (TCHIRB-1021105-E) and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.
Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.
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Lung, FW., Shu, BC., Chiang, TL. et al. Recalled Parental Gender Preference in Chinese Culture: A Taiwan Birth Cohort Study. Arch Sex Behav (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10508-020-01879-5
- Taiwan Birth Cohort Study
- Artificial reproductive technology
- Prenatal sex preference