What has contributed to improvements in the child sex ratio in select districts of India? A decomposition of the sex ratio at birth and child mortality

J Biosoc Sci. 2020 Jan;52(1):27-36. doi: 10.1017/S0021932019000221. Epub 2019 May 22.


Despite an overall downward trend in child sex ratios in India, some of the most imbalanced districts in 2001 (fewer girls than boys) showed signs of becoming more balanced in 2011. This analysis looked in depth at these districts to better understand the nature of the improvement in the child sex ratio using two rounds of data from the Census of India from 2001 and 2011. Data were used from the 153 districts that showed improvement in their child sex ratio between 2001 and 2011. The improvement was decomposed into: (1) less sex-selective abortion and (2) improved girl compared with boy mortality. Most of the improvement in child sex ratios were shown to be due to reductions in sex-selective abortion, although this still made up the majority of the cause of imbalanced sex ratios in 2011. Child sex ratio improvement has been happening in both rural and urban areas of India, and there is evidence of stagnation in mortality decline for urban girls.

Keywords: Child mortality; Sex ratios; South Asia.

MeSH terms

  • Abortion, Eugenic
  • Censuses
  • Child
  • Child Mortality / trends*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Developing Countries
  • Family
  • Female
  • Humans
  • India
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Parturition*
  • Rural Population
  • Sex Ratio*
  • Urban Population