Monday 26
F - Understanding prenatal and postnatal gender discrimination at its origin: a multidisciplinary analysis of son preference
Coord. Laura Rahm
› 16:00 - 17:30 (1h30)
› salle / room 301
Description de l'atelier / Panel description
Laura Rahm  1@  , Sara Tafuro  2@  , Valentine Becquet  3@  , Clémence Jullien  4@  
1 : Centre for Population and Development  (CEPED)  -  Website
Université Paris V - Paris Descartes
19 rue Jacob, 75006 Paris -  France
3 : IRD
Institut de Recherche pour le Développement - IRD (FRANCE)
4 : LESC
Université Paris Nanterre

The preference for sons is rooted in the kinship norms of several Asian countries. For centuries couples have been seeking to ensure the birth of a male heir by continuing childbearing until a boy was born. Daughters are often provided with fewer resources for survival compared to their brothers, which is reflected in excess female child mortality. The advent of ultrasound examination has opened a new path for gender discrimination, allowing couples to detect the sex of the fetus prior to birth and to abort unwanted girls. Prenatal sex selection has become common in several Asian countries, leading to a demographic distortion detected through high sex ratios at birth. These forms of pre- and postnatal gender discrimination have resulted in over 120 million missing females today, mainly in Asia.

The objective of the proposed panel is to analyze different dimensions of son preference in order to grasp the complexity of this cultural feature and its implications on fertility and familial behaviors. Hence, a multidisciplinary and cross-country/comparative approach is adopted. The panel starts with an anthropological/sociological overview on the cultural components of son preference. It proceeds with a demographic analysis of measuring son preference, in which we highlight the role of parity progression ratios according to the sex composition of previous children. Subsequently, a socio-economic analysis sheds light on the underpinnings of son preference. Econometric modeling shows how different manifestations of son preference (i.e. pre- and postnatal sex selection) are associated with different levels of socio-economic and gender development. Finally, the panel presents a review of public policies that directly alleviate or indirectly contribute to son preference. Beyond that, the panel analyzes political masculinities and the discourse by policy makers stressing the importance of a political culture that empowers women rather than patronizing them.

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