The study shows that couples think sex selective abortion increases the chances of them having at least one boy.
Since 1985, over 12 million girls have gone "missing" from the population because of this practice, said a new research released by leading medical journal, The Lancet, on May 24.
“There is really no change in stated son preference over the last 10 to 15 years," said Prabhat Jha who led the study and an epidemiologist at the University of Toronto.
“Fertility has dropped substantially due to economic growth and increases in literacy, which are all very good things, but that has also meant that ultrasound use and access is increasing. Families appear to be saying, 'If nature – or God, if they"re religious – gives us a first boy, then we will have one more child and that"s it, but if we have a first girl we will use ultrasound [and abortion] to ensure our second and last child is a boy." "
India had banned the use of medical technology to determine the sex of the foetus to stop the practice of aborting female child's. But the research suggests that it happens on a larger scale now as compared to that in the past, said Subu V Subramanian, who works at the Harvard School of Public Health and wrote a commentary along with the study.
“There is a whole role of the medical community that has been overlooked," he said. “The penalties for breaking the law are certainly not sufficient enough to deter this."
265,000 birth histories were collected in India"s National Family Health Survey to estimate the difference in the girl-boy ratio. The study also revealed that in 1990, the girl-boy ratio fell from 906 girls for every 1,000 boys, while it went down to 836 in 2005.
A drastic increase in the trend was found among the families with mother's who had 10 or more years of education. Though, it remained minimal in families where the mother was not educated. The sex ratio came down to 20 percent in the rich households. They remained same for both hindu and the muslim families.
Families, with first two girl children saw extreme decline in the possibility of having one more girl child. The ratio in the case of girls to boys in the third-born child was 768 to 1,000 in 2006. This came down when 2.6 children were the average family size in India.
In the north and the northwest of India and some parts of Punjab, Haryana and Gujarat — “the absolute gap is as great as has been observed in any other part of the world, if not greater," said Jha.
Though parental preference throughout the world is same for boys, it is very apparent in Asia, especially in countries like Korea, China and India.