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Skewed sex ratio at birth is being

evidenced across east and south Asia,
in the recent decades.
South Korea has been a trendsetter in
economic development in Asia, and is
now also a trendsetter in reversing
child sex ratios.
Socio -economic development and
normative changes had a great
impact in whole society rather than in
the individuals.

Why is son preference declining in
South Korea?
Does other Asian countries need to
reach the development levels of
South Korea before evidencing
decline in son preference ?

Patriarchal: system in which males
hold power
Bilateral Family : system, in which
a couple might live with either the
womans or the mans family, and
male and female offspring could
both inherit their parents property
Lineage: Direct descent from a
particular ancestor
Ascriptive: A group that has
members of certain race, age, sex

Roots of son preference in South

Patriarchal family system replaced the early
bilateral family system, facilitating tightly
structured system of kinship and political relations
to promote stability and loyalty to a series of
corporate groups - the household, the lineage, the
Neo- Confucianism masculinized the public system
Highly Ascriptive system in terms of economic and social
aspects and government positions.

Strong Supernatural beliefs like Those who died

unmarried or without male descendants are filled
with resentment and can create all kinds of
problems for their siblings and other kin.
Womans primary duty was to bear sons to ensure
the continuity of her husbands lineage.

State policies fortifying

patriarchy, 1950s
Korea state sought to reinforce Confucian
traditions in order to maintain social and political
stability under a series of authoritarian
Rules of patrilineal social organizations were
legalized in 1958
After marriage women are transferred to their husbands
Restricts women to domestic spheres and depriving
them from supporting their parents

Demands for democracy and gender equity were

mainly ignored

Role of industrialization and

The suppression of competing constituencies
enabled the government to channel the national
resources towards rapid industrialization
Increasing opportunities of formal education, reducing
their dependence on lineage and exposing them to new
ways of thinking
Larger proportions of the population able to earn a living
independent of their position in the lineage
Enables people to have retirement savings for their old
age, thus making them less dependent on their children

Unlike the urban areas where women are isolated and
men are surrounded by the kin, urbanizations enables a
greater mobility and the married couple may live away
from the husbands kin and reduces family pressure
Sons may no longer live near enough to their parents to
help care for them and this reduces the gap between

Population control policies

intensity of son preference in

Though the social norms regarding son

preference were weakening, new technologies
were making it easier to manipulate sex ratio at

Explaining Decline in son


The population composition and norms have

rapidly changed during 1991-2003 which lead to
steep decline in the child sex ratio
Most of the decline is due to the changes in
social norms contributing to 73% of decline and
the remaining 27% is due to population
composition (Urbanization and education)
This implies that there is a rapid diffusion of
norms to rural areas and consequent
homogenization between rural and urban areas

Explaining Decline in son

Child sex ratios in India and China can get
normalized before they become highly developed
Greater chances of changes even in rural areas
through the spread of non farm employment
Promotion through interventions and media
campaigns to change peoples perception about
gender roles and foundations of womens
organizations and financial incentives of parents
to raise daughters
In South Korea where there is military regime for
3 decades, Confucian traditions it took time to
overcome to achieve the decline in the sex ratio
which is not the case in these countries.


The Decline of Son Preference in South Korea: The

Roles of Development and Public Policy by Woojin
Chung and Monica Das Gupta, Population and
Development Review, Vol. 33, No. 4 (Dec., 2007), pp.
The Compressed Development and Demographic
Transition in South Koreaby Eui-Hang Shin,
KeongSukPark, and J Kim supported by the National
Organizing Committee of the 27thIUSSP conference.
Article, Its a BoyThe Times/ beaver Newspapers, Inc.,
Pennsylvania July 9, 1996
Why is Son Preference Declining in South Korea? The
Role of Development and Public Policy, and the
Implications for China and India by Woojin Chung,
Monica Das Gupta ,The World Bank Development
Research Group, Human Development and Public
Services Team, October 2007.