Friday, July 10, 2009

Sex selection brings Vietnamese boy boom

VIETNAM is seeing a boom in male births as increasing numbers of parents opt for sex-specific abortions.

Christophe Guilmoto of Descartes University in Paris, France, and his colleagues analysed population data collected by the General Statistics Office of Vietnam since 2000, plus two surveys which assessed birth rates in 2006 and 2007.

In 2001, the sex ratio in Vietnam was close to the biological norm of 105 male births per 100 female births, but this reached 111 to 100 by 2007 (PLoS One, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone0004624).

Guilmoto also analysed statistics of access to prenatal ultrasounds, and found that there had been a tenfold increase in availability between 1998 and 2007.

Demand for sex determination may have existed for a long time, but only once better quality ultrasound machines arrived in hospitals were women able to access and make use of this information, he says.

Theo (newscientist)



PLK said...

The article brings up the issue (for one more time) of the abortion's adverse effect on demographics, and naturally its immoral base.

Kythe said...

Take a good look at China, where giving the government the power over abortion has resulted in the government mandating abortions.

You may not like abortion (I don't, either), but better it be left in the hands of women, rather than government.

Stephanie said...

Yes, take a good look at China...if they had not put in the one-child policy, the population would have soared beyond the capacity for not only China to handle, but the planet. The policy came with problems no doubt, but it was a courageous move. Aside from anything else, this planet faces almost all of its problems due to over population. In Industrialized countries, over population is ANY growth, since we consume far more per capita than third world countries. Now what happens when China & India's enormous populations demand equal access to our comfort levels? Whether we like it or not, we are choosing badly and somewhere, someone is going to mandate something because nothing has worked yet, and certainly not free choice.

Kyle said...

Yes, 'small' problems like widespread infanticide.

Soylent said...

"Why is it immoral to have wars where people get killed..."

Because most humans seek to reduce their chances of dying and a rational way to do this is to minimize the amount of killing that's not absolutely nescessary.

"...yet the left claims that killing humans in the womb is moral."

Amoral; it's an act of no moral content. A fetus in the first trimester is almost indistinguishable from the fetus of any other animal and completely lacking any differentiation in the brain that would allow it to have the rich capacity for thought and emotions.

Doesn't it bother you that generally irreligous countries like the Scandinavian countries and Japan have far lower rates of abortion, unwanted pregnancies, divorce rates, STDs and violent crime?

dag said...

In my view abortion does not have an "immoral base". There is no way to categorically label abortion as immoral without taking very extreme (and possibly, necessarily religious) stances.

Just as with any policy or any behavior, if done the wrong way it can be detrimental. Analogy: Just because someone can over-eat does not mean eating is bad.

Di said...

Hear! hear!

dan said...

What kind of ratio would have to be reached before there was some form of population collapse in Vietnam? Perhaps this will eventually force a cultural shift as females become rarer and thus a more 'valuable' gender to what is currently perceived?

C. said...

More likely the rarer women and girls will be basically kept as 'brood mares' and forbidden to do anything else. :/

It's not like girls aren't already considered 'expendable'...

Ugly American said...

With history as a guide that is exactly what happens.

Excess male population also tends to lead to war.

It's one of the root problems in the Middle East. When a rich man can have 100 wives, it means that 99 other men can't get married at all. That tends to lead to anger, frustration and violence.

So China, India and now Viet Nam should take a long hard look at their future and what will happen when all these guys get sick of working 60h and want a family and can't have one.

Jeremy said...

That sounds more like America, my friend. Take a long hard look at what feminism has done to our society.

One can argue, quite convincingly in anthropological or social dynamic terms, that prostitutes and sluts are there to help alleviate the conditions you describe. Maybe that's why nature keeps producing them with every generation.

It would be interesting to formally study what you describe in Arab societies to see if the number of women in harems is correlated with wars. I suspect that there really aren't enough women in harems to make that much difference but you never know. Those people have a long tribal history of conflicts and I'm sure there are various mechanisms for it that one can point one's finger at. I also understand that men commonly turn to men in times of female shortages in those cultures.

And the Chinese do not ever get sick of working 60 hours a week. Or 80!

Miguel Duarte said...

Exactly. This choice will end up eventually making woman much more valuable than man and changing society values accordingly

Stephanie said...

Well, sad to say but this is one way to curb the population which is a well-known technique to cull deer populations now and again by opening doe season to hunters. Culling the female population by selecting male off-spring may be an evolutionary ingrained measure to prevent over-population... as much as it is disagreeable, it does have at least this one positive aspect. No one has really made a study of this since favoring of males seems to occur in most cultures...and despite equality, male children are still preferred. Perhaps if women realized their own genetic heritage is carried by girls, they would be less inclined to select males...I don't know. But the world suffers dreadful over population issues and the debate isn't about abortion but selective abortion. An easy solution? Prevention of identification of the fetus's sex, already law in some places.

Jeremy said...

I like that explanation for the most part. But men and women aren't equal,, they're different, and this leads to some interesting conditions that build up. As a commenter below notes, it is the Vietnamese women who leave their family home to marry, while sons stay with their traditional family group. Thus clan stature and integrity is male-driven.

It is possible that resources or folk politics are being strained in Vietnam which is driving clans to keep their integrity by having more males.

If this is indeed driven by instinct it would probably occur at widely spaced intervals, many generations apart in time, triggered by epigenetic environmental conditions.

I believe there are two other epigenetic population phenomena that occur at widely spaced intervals, perhaps building up over time and then triggered by something: the periodic emergence of a messiah-type figure among Semitic tribes (David, Jesus and Osama being the most famous); and a regular reversal of slave/ master status among many African tribes over generations. Periodic mass migrations of some European populations might also be an epigenetic phenomenon that is triggered by something many generations apart. There are probably others in different populations of the world. It's a survival mechanism built into the genes and triggered by group conditions. Some mammal and plant species exhibit these phenomena too.

Stephanie said...

I mean equal under law(s). In Vietnam, the situation often faced by impoverished families is the sale of their girls into sexual slavery. The life of a Vietnamese woman is not to be envied in a very male dominated society and I for one, would prefer a male child if for no other reason that they would be promised a better life. To think that your daughters had the great potential to end up in bad circumstances is reason enough. To suffer your daughters' trials, even her early death would be too hard to bear...perhaps our intellectualizing is missing a simple truth: you can love a child no matter what its sex, but perfer one that has a greater chance of avoiding suffering. As a woman, I thought about that very thing if I had been born in a male dominated society. It is hard to suffer the pain of your children.

Jeremy said...

I think you're exaggerating the plight of Vietnamese women. I doubt if "sexual slavery" is really known there in intact social groups.

Various societies have traditions of "giving away the bride" and so forth, and there are all kinds of obligations that both men and women are expected to follow when they marry, including sexual ones. But "sexual slavery" is not routine. The Vietnamese have many raw and primitive aspects to their culture that to us would seem vile. But you seem to be holding it up (from afar) as a case example to justify rather extreme beliefs and caution in your own life.

And a mother should not "suffer" her daughter's trials, she should give her independence and let her live her own life. She should be a good wife and mother. A mother shouldn't live her own life through her daughter. It is the stage mothers and helicopter moms who do this, and whose marriages last no longer than when the children leave the nest.

Could it be you've absorbed yourself in western feminist literature for too long and are afraid to progress with relationships and reproduction?

wizardjks said...

Shouldn't we be prosecuting people who do this?

EVK said...

Keep in mind that traditionally in these cultures, the sons stay with their families while the daughters become members of their husbands family. Sometimes far away. So investment made in raising a son will stay with his parents and the daughters have no benefit to parents, beyond a possible bride payment, once she's grown. This also means no children or grandchildren in your immediate family when you're old.

Until that changes culturally, I'd probably want a son over a daughter too.

lks said...

Dag said:

"There is no way to categorically label abortion as immoral without taking very extreme (and possibly, necessarily religious) stances."

Not true. Look at any embryology book and read about the heartbeat at 4 weeks, brain waves at 6, etc. Then look at a first trimester abortion (they have it on youtube) or read about the different techniques that are out there (partial birth variety taking the cake). It turns your stomach and you don't need to be religious.

Rod Penn said...

This is an irrational aspect of most asian cultures, from India to China. They want sons, but everyone else is doing the same thing, so then their sons cannot find a partner when they grow up. All this stuff about "tradition" is just backward mindless nonsense.

Jeremy said...

It's not totally mindless, Rod. It works in the short-term for the ones who do it, just like selfish behaviors in the west. Having some kind of western-style "equality" of each sex's value is only one way to address this.

Which way the culture goes is not consciously chosen. There are complex interrelationships within a society.

Family groups or clans are themselves living organisms and people do things to keep them healthy, for very good reasons: a steady food supply, social stature, land, better opportunities for its members and so forth.

Other possible solutions to an overabundance of males are sanctioning prostitution, out-migration, castration, homosexuality, raids to get females, wars, and wife-sharing. The world has examples of all of these somewhere.

R. G. Frano, A. -E. M. T. 4-Paramedic, A. C. L. S. , (Ret. ) said...

As a (former) Catholic turned Neo_Pagan, I have NO scientific or morality-related issue with any abortion, any time, for any reason, on a planet where 30-40,000 children a day starve to death, provided the pregnant person makes the final decision! Meanwhile, in Brazil, a 9 year old found pregnant recieved abortion to rid herself of twin rape products...the Catholic church has responded by excommunicating mother & doctors, but...not the jailed rapist - stepfather! Welcome to the morality olympics, 'special gymnastics' division!

I DO have issues with Ratzinger-alias-Benedict when he lies about condom protections vs. STD's, since a rapist without condom can infect anyone, no matter how 'abstinate' they may (claim to) be.

It may be unpleasent if someone can't find the person of their dreams, but, that's hardly a 'public policy' issue!

I'm sure mother nature has seen/survived more troublesome issues, and, given the track record of (monotheistic) believer's marriege's, I just feel cynical amusement at their 'worries'! I've been in a relationship which at long last, after 24 years is headed toward (civil) marriege...

Unless I reveal the orientation, which could be: 'M/W', 'M/M', 'F/F', 'M- or 'F-/T', ['T'=Transgendered'], how would anyone reading know?

If you're worried because you can't dicipher which of the choices above describe us, I'd like to see some scientific research into what amounts to clinical paranoia! What, precisely, is there to be upset about?

PTH said...

On one hand, doctors can help to easily have a son: diet, sperm sorting, determination of shed off time of egg...and on the other hand, many Vietnamese want to have a son rather a daughter (mentality reason). These two ways meet, it's good for the ones: demanders and the others: suppliers. Moreover, there aren't enough propaganda and education about this problem and the related one's. All these reasons lead to a boy boom in Vietnam.