Citizens for Justice and Peace

India’s Economic Survey reveals first ever estimate for number of ‘unwanted’ girls

01, Feb 2018 | CJP Team

The Indian Express reported that India’s newly released Economic Survey includes the first ever estimate of the number of “unwanted” girls in the country, i.e. girls whose parents wanted a boy, but instead had a girl. The figure, 21 million, was obtained by considering the sex ratio of the last child (SRLC), which was disproportionately tilted in favour of males. This signalled that parents continue to have children until they achieve the “desired number of boys,” the Express said. According to the survey, the large number of “unwanted” girls within the 0 to 25 years age group is a direct result of the “son meta preference” that prompts parents to continue having children after having a daughter. According to the Express, this idea stems from several 2017 papers by Northwestern University development economist Seema Jayachandran. The Survey, citing Jayachandran’s paper, explains that while the “son meta preference” does not cause “sex-selective abortion,” it could still be “detrimental to female children because it may lead to fewer resources devoted to them”. The Survey also notes that the preference for sons that results in sex selective abortion and “differential survival has led to skewed sex ratios and birth and beyond, leading to estimates of 63 million ‘missing’ women.” 


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