Son Preference of Immigrants to the United States: Data from U.S. Birth Certificates, 2004–2013 Academic Article uri icon


  • Son preference has existed for centuries in many cultures and societies. In some Asian countries, including China and India, the sex ratio at birth (SRB, number of male infants divided by number of female infants times 100) is elevated above the worldwide biological norm of about 105. We investigate whether this ratio is elevated in the U.S. for immigrant women. We analyze U.S. birth certificates for 2004-2013 and categorize births by mother's and father's race/ethnicity; mother's place of birth, and birth order of the child. The SRB is elevated for two groups of women: Chinese women born in China for children of birth order 2 and higher, and Indian women born in India for children of birth order 3 and higher. The SRB is not elevated for Chinese and Indian women born in the U.S., nor for Mexican women, Black women, nor White women, regardless of place of birth. The race/ethnicity of the child's father does not appear to be a strong factor in the SRB. In the early twenty-first century the elevated SRB for Chinese and Indian women born in China and India respectively suggests sex selection for higher order births in the U.S.

author list (cited authors)

  • Howell, E. M., Zhang, H., & Poston, D. L.

citation count

  • 8

publication date

  • April 2017