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14 July 2014

Norway: Sex ratios of children born to Indian immigrants

This study found that contrary to findings from earlier periods, Indian-born women in Norway gave birth to more girls than boys of higher order in the period 2006-2012. From BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth.

The authors note that in some Western countries, a disturbingly low share of girls has been observed among new-borns from Indian immigrants. Also in Norway, a previous study based on figures from 1969-2005 showed a high percentage of boys among children of Indian origin living in Norway, when the birth was of higher order (third birth or later). This was suggested to reflect a practice of sex-selective abortions in the Indian immigrant population.

This article discussed whether extended time series for the period 2006-2012 gave further support to this claim. Based on data from the Norwegian Central Population Register, the authors used observations for the sex of all live births in Norway for the period 1969-2012 where the mother was born in India. The percentage of boys was calculated for each birth order, during four sub periods. Utilising a binomial probability model they tested whether the observed sex differences among Indian-born women were significantly different from sex differences among all births.

The authors found that contrary to findings from earlier periods and other Western countries, Indian-born women in Norway gave birth to more girls than boys of higher order in the period 2006-2012. They note that this is somewhat surprising, since sex selection is usually expected to be stronger if the mother already has two or more children.

The authors concluded that the extended time series do not suggest a prevalence of sex selective abortions among Indian-born women in Norway. They discuss whether the change from a majority of boys to a majority of girls in higher order could be explained by new waves of immigrant women, by new preferences among long-residing immigrant women in Norway - or by mere coincidence.

Changing trend? Sex ratios of children born to Indian immigrants in Norway revisited. Tønnessen M1, Aalandslid V, Skjerpen T. BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth. 2013 Sep 5;13:170. doi: 10.1186/1471-2393-13-170.

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