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


This chapter covers the Indian case study. Skewed sex ratios disfavoring girls date back to colonial times where they were largely driven by infanticide, differences in nutrition and health, and postnatal neglect. Yet, since the introduction of ultrasound in the 1980s, prenatal sex selection has been on the rise. India has introduced a variety of policies to address sex selection including advocacy and conditional transfers. Yet, its approach has primarily focused on a strong legal ban, the PC-PNDT Act, on sex determination seeking to punish doctors who provide sex-selective services. There is little conclusive evidence that such a “methods-based” approach has had a significant effect on SRB. In order assess policy efficacy, I examine the district of Shahid Bhagat Singh Nagar (formerly Nawanshahr) in the state of Punjab. The district became known for a rigorous government action against sex selection carried out in the mid 2000s. While there has been an overall improvement in SRB in the post-intervention period in all of Punjab, significant changes have been made in SBS Nagar, which can be directly linked to the intervention. Thanks to strong leadership and community mobilization policy efficacy was significantly improved. However, improvements came with the negative unintended side effect of infringing human rights and gender equality, which I discuss under “political masculinities.”


Son preference Sex selection Public policies Policy impact India 


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Authors and Affiliations

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

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