The Dynamic Relationship Between Sex Preference of Children and Sex Ratio at Birth in China, 1979–2017

Jiawei Hou , Central University of Finance and Economics, University of Beijing
Baochang Gu, Renmin University of China
Yinfeng Zhang, Tianjin Academy of Social Sciences, Tianjin, China
Chen Chen

Sex ratio at birth (SRB) is a basic indicator to reflect the gender equality at the beginning of life. Since the mid-1980s, the SRB in China has been on the rise and beyond the normal range. In the analysis of the causes of the SRB imbalance, the role of son preference, is often emphasized. But in fact, the son preference has been significantly weakened in the past 4 decades or so. Meanwhile, with the weakening of daughter preference, the cultural atmosphere of the whole society is also changing from sex preference to no preference. This changing process is influenced by the “relative number fluctuation effect”, which means the direction and speed of the change of the numerator and the denominator will lead to either increase or decrease of the relative number. The changing trend of both ideal sex ratio of children and SRB is consistent with this effect.

See extended abstract

 Presented in Session 9. Marriage, Family, Households, & Unions; Gender, Race, & Ethnicity