Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

How serious is son preference in China?

15.06.2011
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.

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.

Lisa Eklund’s thesis is entitled Rethinking Son Preference. Gender, Population Dynamics and Social Change in the People’s Republic of China. Lisa Eklund defended her thesis on 10 June 2011 at Lund University, Sweden.

NOTE: This text has been cleared by Lisa Eklund, as opposed to a text on the same topic that was circulated on 13 June 2011. She can be contacted at Lisa.Eklund@soc.lu.se or +46 709 58 20 02.

Thesis: Rethinking Son Preference. Gender, Population Dynamics and Social Change in the People’s Republic of China

Megan Grindlay | idw
Further information:
http://www.lunduniversity.lu.se/o.o.i.s?id=12683&postid=1950819
http://www.vr.se

More articles from Social Sciences:

nachricht Illinois researchers researchers find tweeting in cities lower than expected
21.02.2018 | University of Illinois College of Engineering

nachricht Polluted air may pollute our morality
08.02.2018 | Association for Psychological Science

All articles from Social Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Explanation for puzzling quantum oscillations has been found

So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics

Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...

Im Focus: Dozens of binaries from Milky Way's globular clusters could be detectable by LISA

Next-generation gravitational wave detector in space will complement LIGO on Earth

The historic first detection of gravitational waves from colliding black holes far outside our galaxy opened a new window to understanding the universe. A...

Im Focus: Entangled atoms shine in unison

A team led by Austrian experimental physicist Rainer Blatt has succeeded in characterizing the quantum entanglement of two spatially separated atoms by observing their light emission. This fundamental demonstration could lead to the development of highly sensitive optical gradiometers for the precise measurement of the gravitational field or the earth's magnetic field.

The age of quantum technology has long been heralded. Decades of research into the quantum world have led to the development of methods that make it possible...

Im Focus: Computer-Designed Customized Regenerative Heart Valves

Cardiovascular tissue engineering aims to treat heart disease with prostheses that grow and regenerate. Now, researchers from the University of Zurich, the Technical University Eindhoven and the Charité Berlin have successfully implanted regenerative heart valves, designed with the aid of computer simulations, into sheep for the first time.

Producing living tissue or organs based on human cells is one of the main research fields in regenerative medicine. Tissue engineering, which involves growing...

Im Focus: Light-induced superconductivity under high pressure

A team of scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg investigated optically-induced superconductivity in the alkali-doped fulleride K3C60under high external pressures. This study allowed, on one hand, to uniquely assess the nature of the transient state as a superconducting phase. In addition, it unveiled the possibility to induce superconductivity in K3C60 at temperatures far above the -170 degrees Celsius hypothesized previously, and rather all the way to room temperature. The paper by Cantaluppi et al has been published in Nature Physics.

Unlike ordinary metals, superconductors have the unique capability of transporting electrical currents without any loss. Nowadays, their technological...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Save the date: Forum European Neuroscience – 07-11 July 2018 in Berlin, Germany

02.05.2018 | Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

Unique scope of UV LED technologies and applications presented in Berlin: ICULTA-2018

12.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Supersonic waves may help electronics beat the heat

18.05.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Keeping a Close Eye on Ice Loss

18.05.2018 | Information Technology

CrowdWater: An App for Flood Research

18.05.2018 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>