Effects of Son Preference on Contraception, Abortion, and Fertility in Central Asia: The Case of Uzbekistan

Jennifer Barrett, University of Texas at Austin

Research on sex preference for children has largely focused on Southern and Eastern Asian countries and overlooked the region of formerly Soviet Central Asia. Using the 2002 Uzbekistan Health Examination Survey and qualitative data collected in 2005 and 2006, I explore the preference for male births as it affects contraception, abortion, and fertility in a country well into its fertility transition. Findings indicate that, while son preference has a small influence on current contraceptive use, the overall sex ratio at birth (1.05) may mask substantial parity-specific differences. For first births, the calculated sex ratio does not fall in the normal range and may indicate the presence of an artificial intervention. I use focus group and individual and expert interview data to explain this phenomenon in economic and cultural terms. The paper discusses the policy implications and the relevance of these findings for theoretical perspectives on son preference.

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Presented in Session 157: Intentions and Behavior Related to Contraceptive Use and Childbearing