A new paper published in the Procedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggests that, as parents preferentially select boys over girls and gender imbalances grow, we'll see rising levels of anti-social and violent behavior.

Stella: Isn't she worth just as much as a baby boy? (Photo by Liza Pryor)
Stella: Isn't she worth just as much as a baby boy? (Photo by Liza Pryor)

"There are already an estimated 80 million missing females in India and China alone."

(According to the World Bank, in 2004 48.6% of China's population and 48.7% of India's population were female. By contrast, females made up 49.1% of the total population in East Asia, and 52.1% in all of Europe and Central Asia.)

The Reuters news report says,

"'This trend would lead to increased levels of anti-social behavior and violence, as gender is a well-established correlate of crime, and especially violent crime,' [the authors] said, adding the trend would threaten stability and security in many societies."

The authors of the paper call for "measures to reduce sex-selection and an urgent change in cultural attitudes." But that seems easier said than done.

Do you think it's possible to change cultural attitudes about gender preference? It's easy to say this is a problem of East Asian cultures, but what about the US? Do we have cultural preferences about our children's genders, too?

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

Liza's picture
Liza says:

Buzz visitors have already done some thinking about these issues.

Here's a discussion of some other possible social issues linked to gender imbalance, including some that could happen in the US.

A technique called preimplantation genetic diagnosis, used in concert with in vitro fertilization (IVF) allows couples to select not only healthy embryos, but also to choose a baby's sex before the woman is even pregnant. While many couples might not consider abortion of a baby of the "wrong" sex, this method allows them to pick, possibly contributing to gender imbalance. (Incidentally, the same technique, which involves removing a single cell from a developing embryo and looking at its DNA, might soon be used in order to create embryonic stem cell lines for research purposes.

posted on Tue, 08/29/2006 - 8:11pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I think that parents shouldnt have a choice on gender preferance. They shouldnt care about the gender of thier children.

posted on Wed, 08/30/2006 - 1:02pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

I just found this NY Times Bloggingheads feature, in which authors Linda Hirshman and Michelle Goldberg discuss sex-biased abortion:

posted on Tue, 08/05/2008 - 12:51pm

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