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India Child Sex Ratio

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Table of Contents1. 2. 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 3. 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 4.4.1

INTRODUCTION ........................................................................................................................1 SEX-RATIO TRANSITION IN INDIA ......................................................................................1 Old Regime: Neglect and Infanticide .................................................................................1 The New Regime and Sex-selective Abortions from the 1980s ..................................2 Demographic Outcome and Mechanisms ........................................................................4 Region, Religion and Economic Status ...............................................................................6 SEX-RATIO IMBALANCE AND EXCESS MALE POPULATION .......................................8 Options and Hypotheses ......................................................................................................8 Findings and the Meaning for Future Population Structures ......................................10 Skewed Sex Ratios and Marriage Patterns .....................................................................10 Implications for Men and Women ...................................................................................12 Marriage Squeeze and Potential Losers ..........................................................................13 SEX SELECTION: HOW AND WHY? ..................................................................................13 4.1.1Able? ........................................................................................................................14 Methods ..............................................................................................................14

4.1.1.1 4.1.1.2 4.1.1.3

Traditional methods..........................................................................................................................14 Sex determination and selective abortion ...................................................................................15 Latest sex-selection technology ....................................................................................................15

4.1.2 4.1.2.1 4.1.2.3 4.1.3 4.2 4.2.1 4.2.2 4.2.2.2 4.2.3 4.3 5 5.1 5.1.1 5.1.2

Knowledge and accessibility ..........................................................................................16 Knowledge .........................................................................................................................16 Providers ............................................................................................................................17 Legislation ..........................................................................................................................17 Willing? ..................................................................................................................................18 Social acceptability of sex selection .............................................................................18 Economic rationale...........................................................................................................18 Economic support and other benefits ......................................................................19 Symbols and tradition .....................................................................................................19 Limitations of the Utilitarian Framework.........................................................................20

4.1.2.2 Clinics .................................................................................................................................16

4.2.2.1 Cost factors .......................................................................................................................18

POLICY RESPONSES AND FUTURE PROSPECTS .............................................................20 Legal Response .....................................................................................................................21 The law against sex selection ............................................................................................21 Implementation and results ...........................................................................................213

5.1.3 5.2 5.2.1 5.2.2 5.2.2.1 5.2.2.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 6 7

Enforcing PNDT ................................................................................................................22 Advocacy Efforts and Gender-Equity Initiatives ............................................................23 Gender equity....................................................................................................................23 Advocacy and the press..................................................................................................23 Sex ratio and the press ....................................................................................................24 Advocacy .......................................................................................................................24 Monitoring Change ..............................................................................................................25 Aggravation or Improvement in the Future ....................................................................26 Looking Forward: Possibilities and Needs .......................................................................27

Bibliography ...............................................................................................................................29 Appendix: The Measurement of Sex Ratio .........................................................................32

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1. INTRODUCTIONFor multiple reasons, Indias experience is crucial to understanding the current increase in the proportion of males versus females in populations across Asia. First, rising sex ratios in India have been recorded since the early 1980s, and have since continued increasing with no sign, so far, of reversing course. The impact of this early rise is already visible among the adult population of several Indian districts. Second, even if sex-ratio values in India are still beneath those of China, its potential contribution to the overall masculinization of Asia (and, consequently, of the worlds population) is particularly formidable in view of Indias demographic weight.1 The prospect of further worsening of Indias sex composition requires close monitoring of current sex-ratio trends in the country. Lastly, the Indian scenario of female discrimination is extremely complex in view of Indias social and economic diversity: the interplay of cultural and economic factors, along with the impact of policy initiatives, has produced a heterogeneous situation; in turn, this complexity offers ways to better understand the mechanisms at work, and to inform the policy debate on the struggle against gender discrimination. A vast amount of knowledge on sex discrimination in India has been accumulated over the last twenty years. Moreover, detailed statistics from various sources exist2 that describe several aspects of sex discrimination such as sex ratio at birth (hereafter SRB), child sex ratio, female excess mortality and abortion practices at various scales of analyses (state, district, municipalities) and for many different subpopulations (classified by age, religion, literacy rate, etc.). This paper will therefore summarize the available literature3 and statistical sources (only a few statistical details will be given here), in order to propose a comprehensive review of the main dimensions of the recent sex-ratio degradation in India: its origin, its mechanisms and social characteristics, its implications in the long run and its major causes. This will then lead us to a discussion of the recent policy experience and its future prospects. The first section focuses on the recent demographic trends observed in India. We examine the evolution of the sex ratio over the last decades, and the variations observed within the country. In the next section, we present some results of demographic projections up to 2050, and examine the future consequences of skewed SRBs over Indias age and sex distribution, as well as their potential implications on social and economic organization. The next section examines the underlying factors behind the recent reduction in the proportion of female children, distinguishing in particular between the supply- and demand-side factors. The last section is devoted to policy responses and future prospects, opening up the discussion on potential avenues for confronting the current challenges.

2. SEX-RATIO TRANSITION IN INDIASex discrimination has long had visible demographic repercussions on Indias population. In view of this historical dimension, it may be useful to discuss the discriminatory regimes that characterize the social and demographic systems that have prevailed in India at different periods. We will therefore emphasize both their relative stability over time, as well as their gradual transition to the demographic system present today. We will first depict a few elements of the old regime that characterized most of India till the 1970s.

2.1

Old Regime: Neglect and Infanticide

The first censuses conducted by the British administration in colonial India had already stressed the unusually male-heavy character of the Indian population. Boys predominated among Indian children, and high sex ratios were even recorded among older age groups. However, in the absence of reliable statistics, it took decades for statisticians to make sense of this apparent oddity, and to establish that the inflated sex ratios observed in many parts of India since the 19th century were not the

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