Friday, August 21, 2015

On Abortion and Sex selection

River valley in eastern Taiwan.

Was trolling Google scholar and this caught my eye: from this 2008 paper on using abortion as a sex selection device after the laws were relaxed in 1985-6 period:
Using an individual level dataset constructed from birth and death registries for all individuals born in Taiwan during 1982-89, we find that the legalization of abortion significantly increased the fraction of males born. The effect comes entirely from third and higher-parity births and children born to mothers over the age of 28. For those groups, abortion increased the fraction of males born by 0.7 percentage-points for post-reform cohorts on average (from 51.5 percentage-points in 1982-84 to 53.5 percentage-points by 1989), accounting for nearly 100% of the observed increase in sex imbalance during this period. The results on sex-differential mortality show that legalizing abortion decreased EFM by 25%. Our results suggest that approximately 15% of parents selecting post-natally before the reform would have substituted to abortion as a method of sex-selection. Taken literally, this suggests that for every 100 abortion of female fetuses, 15 lives of girls born are saved.
What they mean by the last is this: when sex-selection abortion is forbidden, the sex ratio at birth moves back toward the natural norm. But then a large number of unwanted female children are born. What happens to them? One way or another, all over the world, a portion are killed via stealthy or open infanticide. Because fewer females are born in Taiwan, there is less infanticide of female children...
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1 comment:

Brian Castle said...

"Because fewer females are born in Taiwan, there is less infanticide of female children"

or more precisely:

Because fewer females are born in Taiwan, there is less postpartum infanticide of female children

Either way it creates problems for the future. If you don't believe killing baby girls is bad then it creates an interesting ethical dilemma of balancing the need for a peaceful and harmonious society against the desire/right of a family to decide the sex of their children.