The mystery of missing female children in the caucasus: an analysis of sex ratios by birth order.

Michael, M; King, L; Guo, L; McKee, M; Richardson, E; Stuckler, D; (2013) The mystery of missing female children in the caucasus: an analysis of sex ratios by birth order. International perspectives on sexual and reproductive health, 39 (2). pp. 97-102. ISSN 1944-0391 DOI:

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CONTEXT Official data on sex ratios at birth suggest a rise in sex-selective abortions in some post-Soviet states following the introduction of ultrasonography. However, questions remain about the validity of official data in these nations as well as whether the high sex ratios at birth are a statistical artifact. METHODS Trends in sex ratios at birth from 1985 to 2009 for 12 post-Soviet states were examined using vital registration data. For the three countries that had had a Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) in 2005-2010 (Armenia, Azerbaijan and Moldova), survey data were used to calculate sex ratios at birth according to birth order, and vital registration data for 2010 were used to estimate the number of "missing" female births (if any). RESULTS Official data revealed elevated sex ratios at birth in Armenia (117), Azerbaijan (116) and Georgia (121), but not in other post-Soviet states. According to DHS data, sex ratios were high in Armenia and Azerbaijan for first births (138 and 113, respectively); if the first child was a girl, the sex ratio in Armenia was even higher for the second birth (154). Overall, the number of girls born in these countries in 2010 was 10% lower than expected, consistent with 1,972 sex-selective abortions in Armenia and 8,381in Azerbaijan. Sex ratios did not vary by birth order in Moldova. CONCLUSION Sex-selective abortion appears to be common in Azerbaijan and Armenia. Family planning and legal interventions are needed to address this issue.

Item Type: Article
Faculty and Department: Faculty of Public Health and Policy > Dept of Health Services Research and Policy
Research Centre: ECOHOST - The Centre for Health and Social Change
Centre for Maternal, Reproductive and Child Health (MARCH)
Centre for Global Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs)
PubMed ID: 23895886
Web of Science ID: 344519000005


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