Son Preference and the Persistence of Culture: Evidence from South and East Asian Immigrants to Canada
Article first published online: 20 MAR 2013
© 2013 The Population Council, Inc.
Population and Development Review
Volume 39, Issue 1, pages 75–95, March 2013
How to Cite
Almond, D., Edlund, L. and Milligan, K. (2013), Son Preference and the Persistence of Culture: Evidence from South and East Asian Immigrants to Canada. Population and Development Review, 39: 75–95. doi: 10.1111/j.1728-4457.2013.00574.x
- Issue published online: 20 MAR 2013
- Article first published online: 20 MAR 2013
Preference for sons over daughters, evident in China's and South Asia's male sex ratios, is commonly rationalized by poverty and the need for old-age support. In this article we study South and East Asian immigrants to Canada, a group for whom the economic imperative to select sons is largely absent. Analyzing the 2001 and 2006 censuses, 20 percent samples, we find clear evidence of extensive sex selection in favor of boys at higher parities among South and East Asian immigrants unless they are Christian or Muslim. The latter finding accords with the explicit prohibition against (female) infanticide—traditionally the main sex-selection method—in these religions. Our findings point to a strong cultural component to both the preference for sons and the willingness to resort to induced abortion based on sex.