Effects of sex preferences for children on reproductive behavior in Central Asia: evidence from Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, and Uzbekistan

Jennifer B. Barrett, Loyola University Chicago

Research on sex preferences for children has largely focused on North Africa and Southern and Eastern Asian countries, overlooking the region of formerly Soviet Central Asia. Employing Demographic and Health Survey data for Kazakhstan (1999), the Kyrgyz Republic (1997), and Uzbekistan (2002), I explore the preference for male births as it affects contraception, abortion, and fertility in a group of countries well into the fertility transition. Findings indicate that the influence of sex preference for children varies by region in Central Asia, and overall sex ratios mask substantial regional differences and parity-specific variation. At certain birth orders in specific contexts, the sex ratio does not fall in the normal range and may indicate the presence of an artificial intervention such as the use of sex selective abortion. The paper discusses the policy implications and the relevance of these findings for theoretical perspectives on sex preferences for children.

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Presented in Poster Session 2: Fertility, family and children