‘Son preference’: India has 21 million ‘unwanted’ girls, government says

by WorldTribune Staff, January 30, 2018

Due to the “meta son preference,” India has 63 million fewer females than it should have in its population and 21 million girls are “unwanted” by their families, a government report said.

Young Indian women in New Delhi walk past a billboard encouraging the birth of girls. /Getty Images

Indian parents continue having children until giving birth to a boy, the New Delhi government found in its annual economic survey.

Authors of the study said the son preference has resulted in 63 million females statistically “missing” from India’s population due to “selective abortion of female fetuses, disease, neglect and inadequate nutrition.”

The “unwanted” girls often receive less food and education than their brothers, the survey said.

“The challenge of gender is long-standing, probably going back millennia,” wrote the report’s author, chief economic adviser Arvind Subramanian, noting that India must “confront the societal preference for boys.”

The study attributed the parental preference for sons to economic factors such as passing property on to sons, having to pay a dowry for a daughter’s wedding and women moving to their husband’s house after getting married.

The preference for sons became even greater as the nation’s economy improved, the study found. The wealthy Punjab and Haryana states saw the greatest shift in boy-to-girl ratios, with 1,200 boys per 1,000 girls in children younger than 7.

“We know that the sex ratio in India is highly skewed,” Subramanian said.

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