Rural Women

Consequences of Son Preference in a Low-Fertility Society: Imbalance of the Sex Ratio at Birth in Korea

Chai Bin Park
Population and Development Review 1995-3-1

Abstract:A central concern of demographers and population planners has been the impact on family size of parental preferences for the sex of their children, especially in patriarchal developing societies in Asia. In China and Korea (these designations refer to Mainland China and South Korea, respectively, through out the article),fertility has recently declined precipitously to the replacement level or even below, in spite of their populations' strong adherence to son preference. In these countries, however, probably to accommodate both sex preference and a small-family norm, a new demographic phenomenon of a distorted sex ratio(number of males per 100 females)at birth is emerging at three levels: in the population at large, between families, and within families. In this article we present empirical evidence of these changes in the sex ratio at birth, focusing on Korea. Then we discuss possible demographic, social, health, and other implications of the changes. The principal means of altering the sex ratio at birth, also known as the secondary sex ratio, are sex-selective abortion and differential contraceptive use depending on the sex distribution of existing children.

Keywords:Son Preference, sex ratio at birth,Korea

Paper type:Published