My Son, My Moon: Son Preference and Demand for Male Child in Pakistan

Rashid Javed , University of Pau and Pays de l'Adour
Mazhar Mughal, Pau Business School

Son preference is widespread in Pakistan. This study examines the prevalence and strength of the phenomenon and its effect on Pakistani women’s fertility transition. We employed data from nationwide demographic and health surveys for the years 1990-91 and 2012-13 and used probit and matching econometric techniques. We generated a number of indicators to chart the change in revealed and stated preference for male children over time. We find strong evidence for both the realized and stated preference for male offspring. Son preference persists in Pakistan and its impact on actual and stated fertility is still strong. Although the country’s overall sex ratio has fallen, the sex ratio at birth and sex ratio at last birth have increased indicating an increased reliance on differential birth stopping. Son preference decreases with couple’s level of education. It is more intense among middle-class and rural households. The stated desire for sons has also come down. The likelihood of second birth does not vary with the sex of the first-born. In contrast, women with one or more sons at higher parities are upto 14% less likely to pursue additional fertility compared with women with no sons. The probability of continuing childbearing also decreases with the number of sons born. Besides, women with one or more sons are 29 to 34% more likely to desire no more children. These findings help explain the country’s skewed sex ratios and the slow rate of demographic transition.

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 Presented in Session P1. Poster Session Fertility, Family and the Life Course