Gender-Biased Sex Selection in Asia: Motives, Methods, Magnitudes

  • Laura Rahm
Part of the Demographic Transformation and Socio-Economic Development book series (DTSD, volume 11)


This chapter sets the scene by exploring the motives, methods and magnitudes of gender-biased sex selection (GBSS) drawing from socio-demographic and anthropological research. It starts out by discussing the motives (or reasons) behind GBSS, reviewing gender preferences, family structures, as well as fertility, economic, and political pressures to sex select. These factors are intricately connected. Son preference is ultimately rooted in patrilineal and patrilocal kinship systems, where assets are passed through the male line and sons reside with their parents in old age. Additional economic and political factors (such as major shifts in population policies, economic shocks and political instability) can also contribute to the existence of GBSS. The focus then turns to the different methods used by parents to influence the sex composition of their families and the evolution of these methods (or practices) over time. Special attention is given to female infanticide and neglect, continued child bearing, ultrasound in combination with selective abortions allowing couples to prenatally deselect daughters, and more advanced technologies such as preconception and pre-implementation sex selection. Finally, this chapter highlights the magnitudes (or outcome) of sex selection by giving an overview of affected countries, the number of missing women as well as long-term socio-demographic consequences of sex imbalances at birth.


Sex selection and sex determination Kinship systems Gender preferences Marriage squeeze Asia 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Laura Rahm
    • 1
  1. 1.Center for Population and DevelopmentParisFrance

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