Asia-Pacific Population Journal

For over two decades, the Asia-Pacific Population Journal (APPJ) has been taking the pulse of population and social issues unfolding in the region. Published by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), APPJ brings out high quality, evidence-based and forward-looking articles relevant for population policies and programmes in Asia and the Pacific. Prominent population experts, award-winning demographers, as well as lesser known researchers have been contributing articles, documenting over the years the evolution of thinking in this important sphere.


Influence of son preference on contraceptive use in Bangladesh

Son preference is commonly believed to be widespread in South Asia and in many developing countries, particularly where women are economically and socially dependent on men (Bairagi and Langsten, 1986; Arnold and Kuo, 1984; Cleland and others, 1983; Vlasoff, 1990). Analysing Demographic Health Survey data from 57 countries, Arnold (1997) showed that son preference remains strong in South Asian countries and, in that area, Bangladesh has the highest ratio of preference for sons over daughters. Sons are generally preferred over daughters owing to a complex interplay of economic and socio-cultural factors. Sons contribute more than daughters to family income, provide adequate support in old age to their parents, impose less of a financial burden and carry forward the family name (Nag, 1991; Ali, 1989). On the other hand, the birth of a daughter is seen as bringing neither ‘benefit” nor “prestige” to the family. Daughters are often considered as an economic liability because of the dowry system as well as the high cost of weddings. Once married, daughters become physically, as well as psychologically, isolated from their natal home and are seldom seen as making significant contributions to their natal family (Chowdhury, 1994). Thus, when the net utility of having a son outweighs that of having a daughter, parents are likely to prefer sons to daughters and may be reluctant to stop childbearing until their desired number of sons has been achieved.


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