The Economic Survey 2017-18 discusses about the so called "son meta-preference"prevailing among Indian parents. Throw light on the positive and negative implications of such phenomenon on demography.

Published: April 21, 2018

The Economic Survey 2017-18 refers to tendencies among Indian parents who are opting to continue having children until they have a son or desired number of son. This so called “son meta preference”.
Positive Implications

  • Gender ratio: The survey finds that there is decreased tendency of opting for sex selective abortion. This has contributed for betterment of female sex ratio.
  • The son meta preference has added 21 million girls, who are termed as “unwanted girls” by the economic survey. This has aided in increase in number of females in the society.

Negative Implications

  • As per WHO, the biologically determined natural sex ratio at birth is 1.05 boy for every girl. For India, this ratio is 1.82 for first born boys while 1.65 for last born boys. 
  • Sex ratio of last birth (females per 100 births) has merely changed from 39.5% to 39% between 2005-06 and 2015-16. 
  • The continuing trend of reducing child sex ratio on the contrary when the sex ratio is improving.
  • These unwanted girls have restricted access to social and physical infrastructure as a resulting in the poor quality of human resource.

The son meta preference shows that very little has been changed with respect to societal mindset when it comes to girls. This is about to create a complex socio-economic-political challenges in the coming decades. Such a tendency is already being witnessed the northern states of Punjab and Haryana.

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