'Severe' preference for sons in cultures linked to demographic distortion

With the extreme preference for sons around the world increasing, the numbers of women in some countries are on the decline.

According to, there are about 117 million to 126 million women believed to be 'missing' in Asia and Eastern Europe. Missing in that they aren't being born as a result of gender-based selection, which is producing a demographic distortion.

It is happening at multiple stages in development too.

Prenatally, some women find out the sex of their baby is a girl during an ultrasound and decide on an abortion.

Postnatally, some will turn on their daughters with initial neglect or worse.

In the book The Women’s Atlas by Joni Seager, she writes in several countries the sex ratio is 'severely skewed' – 80 girls per 100 boys.

"It is now causing widespread social disruption as entire societies are masculinised," she said.

"Among other consequences, a shortage of women seem to be contributing to local and regional increases in trafficking and kidnapping of women.

"Son preference reflects the combined forces of economics, culture and religion."

As having smaller families get more popular around the world the pressure to have a son grows. 

As a result, countries such as Nigeria, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Indonesia and China all have large numbers of women missing.

Nigeria is the lowest at two million and China the highest at 68 million.

Baby (File picture).
Baby (File picture). Source:

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