Even rich and educated Indian families with a girl as the first
child choose to abort their second child if prenatal test shows it
to be a girl, said a study released by Centre for Global Health
Research (CGHR) here Tuesday.
According to the study: "Analysis of the trends examined from the
statistics of the census of year 2011, 2001, 1991 note a sharp
decline in the girl-to-boy sex ratio for second order births when
the first-born was a girl, sex ratio falling by an average of
about 0.5 percent annually between the year 1990-2005."
"These declines are greater in educated and in richer households
than in illiterate and poorer households," said the study, to be
published in the medical journal Lancet May 24.
The study, led by Prabhat Jha of the CGHR and joined by professors
from foreign universities and former registrar-general of India
Jayant K. Banthia, said: "The girl-boy ratio fell from 906 girls
per 1,000 boys in 1990 to 836 per 1,000 boys in 2005, showing an
annual decline of 0·52 percent."
"The declines were much greater in mothers with 10 or more years
of education than in mothers with no education, and in wealthier
households compared with poorer households," it said.
According to census 2011, the child sex ratio has dropped to 914
females against 1,000 males - the lowest since Independence.
"The estimated number of selective abortions in the 1980s were
around two million, the number rose to around four million in the
1990s, and was between 3.1 to six million in the 2000s. Each 1
percent decline in girl-to-boy sex ratio at ages 0-6 years
translates to 1.2 to 3.6 million more selective female abortions,"
the study said.
The data suggested that selective abortion has spread from a
handful of states to most parts of the country.
S.V. Subramanian from the Harvard School of Public Health, Boston,
said: "The demand for sons among wealthy parents is being
satisfied by the medical community through the provision of
illegal services of fetal sex-determination and sex-selective
"The financial incentive for physicians to undertake this illegal
activity seems to be far greater than the penalties associated
with breaking the law," he said.