Sex preference and fertility in Peninsular Malaysia

by Suet-Ling Pong

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This study uses data from the Second Malaysian Family Life Survey, conducted in 1988, to examine parents' preferences for the sex of their children within each of Malaysia's three ethnic groups. While Malay and Indian parents do not show a consistent sex preference, Chinese parents prefer to have all sons, or a combination of sons and daughters, with more sons than daughters, or at least an equal number of them. Son preference among the Chinese does not seem to be a constraint to fertility decline among that population. Since 1970, Chinese fertility has dropped rapidly; at the same time, Chinese son preference has become more pronounced. Evidence indicates that further reductions in Chinese fertility, through the reduction in sex preference, would be small.

Originally published in: Studies in Family Planning, v. 25, no. 3, May/June 1994, pp. 137-148.

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