Is It a Boy or a Girl? Sex Preference Among Immigrants in Finland

Anna Heino, National Institute for Health and Welfare
Sol Juarez, Stockholm University
Eleonora Mussino, Demography Unit, Department of Sociology, Stockholm University

The sex ratio at birth (SRB) is defined as the number of male births per female births. Without external interventions, among newborns there is a slight excess of boys over girls and the natural SRB lies at approximately 1.05. In some societies, however, the SRB has been strongly skewed toward boys. This has been particularly documented in some countries in Asia. For instance, the SRB was estimated at 1.16 in China in 2014 and at 1.10 in India in 2012. Such patterns are also evident in some Eastern European countries. Normally, an elevated sex ratio at birth indicates a voluntary use of prenatal sex testing and sex-selective abortion
The present study contributes to this literature by investigating the SRB of different immigrant groups and the native-born population in Finland, a universalistic welfare state that has taken positive action in promoting gender equality.
In this study we use Finnish population Registers. More specifically we linked the Medical Birth Register (MBR) with the Finnish Register on Induced Abortions and the Population Register data on women’s background characteristics from Statistics Finland using personal identity number (PIN) which is included in all registers.
Among the methods used to measure sex preference, in this study, we look at imbalances in SRB by country of birth of the mother, implying that a skewed SRB is a result of sex-selection. Previous studies found that this selection is even stronger when we look at third or higher order births among couples that previously only had daughters. We will then look at SRB by different parity and by composition of the previous children. Because this distortion might be an indirect evidence for sex-selective abortions we also look at abortion rate by sex composition of previous children and by gestational age.

Presented in Poster Session 1