Danièle Bélanger, Khuat Thi Hai Oanh, Liu Jianye, Le Thanh Thuy, Pham Viet Than, ” are sex ratios at birth increasing in Vietnam ? “, Population, Volume 58 2003/2
In several large Asian countries, rising sometimes high of the sex ratio (the sex ratio at birth is the ratio between the live births of male and female) at birth is the mark of the maintenance of a strong preference for boys in a context of rapid decline in the size of the families. This discrimination against girls has three possible causes : an under-declaration to the birth, selective abortion according to sex and excess mortality of girls during the first year of life, as a result of their neglect.
Since the count of the “disappeared girls” in the world, made by Amartya Sen (” More than 100 million women are missing “, New York Review of Books, p. 61-65, 1990) and Ansley Coale (” Excess female mortality in the balance of sexes in the population: an estimated number of missing females “, Population and Development Review, 17, p 517-523, 1991) and which we considered already the number 60 to 100 million in the early 1990s, research has increased. It seems from this work that the selective abortion according to sex or, more often, to the origin of this lack of girls, especially in Asia, confucian, that is to say, China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and South Korea. In India, this would be rather the combination of strategies prenatal and postnatal perpetuating discrimination against girls.
These societies have in common a social structure type patrilineal, patrilocal, and patriarchal, in which the threads have a status that is more prestigious and more value in the eyes of their parents than girls. Having a son is essential for parents and other family members for economic reasons, social, cultural, and spiritual. The value of sons as a source of labour is not the criterion dominant, the case of South Korea demonstrates the power of the cultural and spiritual value accorded to the son, which persists in a context of socio-economic development (rsen U., Chung W., Das Gupta M., 1998, ” Fertility and son preference in Korea “, Population Studies, 52, p 317-325). Vietnam shares with China and South Korea the same social structure based on kinship and the same cultural heritage, confucian.
The article by Danièle Bélanger et al. proposes to consider the case of Vietnam. The analyses of fertility and contraceptive behavior show that the preference for sons is strong. The vietnamese families with two daughters were more likely to have a third child than those with at least a son and the women with only daughters are less likely to use contraception than women who have one or more wires. The vietnamese families having more than two children are prepared to use strategies to influence the sex of the future child. The authors ‘ findings do not allow to conclude with certainty, given the deficiencies and defects of the data, the rise in the national report ratios at birth in Vietnam. According to the census data, we can conclude that the tension between the preference for sons and the desire to have small families has not resulted in recovery of the sex ratio at birth, as is the case in China. “One thing is for sure, is that the issue of sex-selective abortions of female fetuses has not attracted the attention in Vietnam and that it remains more or less taboo. The vast majority of doctors, researchers and decision-makers to which we have been a part of this research we have immediately said that abortion with sexual selection is not practiced in Vietnam, while acknowledging unanimously the existence of a strong demand for means to conceive and give birth to boys. “In contrast to national data, those of the hospitals and surveys are the sex ratio at birth abnormal in some groups of the vietnamese population.
The under-reporting of girls at birth is considered an important factor in China, where, to protect themselves in the face of a population policy is severe, families are conduits to hide the births of daughters or offer them for adoption and not to report their birth. In Vietnam, an under-enumeration routine of the children of the female sex seems unlikely in regard to the censuses and the survey on living standards carried out in 1997-1998. The policy is vietnam restriction of births to one or two children is not accompanied by sanctions which weigh in directly on children of rank three and beyond, through a reduced access to health care and education, for example. all usually receive a fine that they must pay in kind (paddy) or in cash. However, the amount varies and, in some rural areas, it happens that the fine is claimed that several years after the birth of the child. However, the relative leniency in the application of the population policy should not induce a sub-routine reporting of girls at birth. The second factor that can explain sex ratio high is excess mortality of girls resulting from differences in the care and treatment received in childhood. In India, for example, the discrimination of girls due to the preference for sons translates into excess mortality. This does not seem to be the case in Vietnam. Abortion, legal in Vietnam since 1954, is very common in Vietnam. Abortion rates are very high, with very rapid growth in the early 1990s. However, the impossibility of an abortion after the first trimester, limits the ability of women to abort the female fetuses. This certainly explains that sex ratios at birth are normal, in Vietnam, in spite of the weakness of the fertility rate combined with a preference for boys, the availability of diagnosis by ultrasound and access to abortion. An interpretation of the residual is still a difference in attitude of the Vietnamese and the Chinese in the face of the desire of having a son. “It may be that the majority of Vietnamese people are less inclined to action when the nature does not meet their aspirations in terms of reproduction. Research on gender relations, which have shown that women have a higher social status in the Vietnam as in China, could in fact give the impression that, in this country, women and couples are more reluctant to dismiss of the girls was already designed. “