Inter-State Comparative Analysis. Trends and Determinants causing Gender Imbalance in India

Research Paper (postgraduate), 2017

12 Pages





Literature Review

Objectives of the Study

Research Methodology

Data Source & Definition of Variables

Selection of Major States

Results and Discussion




Evidences show that many states in our country have shown wide variations in the gender balance. Throughout its long history, India experiences wide variety of cultures and traditions. However, it is unfortunate that this transitional phase led to creation of a culture where women are treated inferior to men. Also, it has been seen that the ideology and perception further differs on the basis of geographical areas too. On one hand, in a matriarchal society under southern parts, women are treated as leaders and natural heirs whereas on the other hand in northern parts they are not even allowed to born. It is also noticed that states differ in sex ratio on the basis of literacy as well. In this context, the present study aims to analyze the trends and their determinants of the skewed distribution among the states and the union territories of the country.

Keywords: gender, sex ratio, women, child, feticide


India has the second highest population in the world. According to Census 2011, India reports second lowest sex ratio among ten most populated countries with China at the top. The pattern reflects a cause of great concern for the future of the society. Sex ratio acts as an important social indicator in measuring parity between males and females. Even after years of revolution, the preference for male child and existence of the patriarchal society still pertains in many of the families.

Low sex ratio portrays the inferior position of women in the society. The status of women in India has seen wide variations. In the Vedic age, women were worshipped as goddesses. Later, their statuses suffered a sharp decline and thus were treated as slaves. Besides this, during the past, in many areas, women were not even allowed to educate themselves believing that their primary job is to look after the house and family. However, women of the twenty first century have made progress in almost all the fields like education, health, administration, etc. In fact, women have also entered in the field of armed forces and aviation industry, which were earlier treated as male domain sectors.

The declining sex ratio is a matter of great concern since it can lead to serious damages to the society viz. demographic imbalances & increasing crime against women. The most plausible explanation for the decline in the number of girls is the Pre natal sex determination with selective abortion of female fetuses. Though, the practice is illegal in India but in many other countries it is still legal. Also, research & development has introduced various techniques and devices which serves the problem.

Selective sex abortion is considered to distort the naturally occurring ratio in India. The probable reasons responsible for such type of discrimination are orthodox thinking and socio economic pressure which leads to strong preference for male child considering him as an asset to the family who will bring respect and dignity. The rigidity of customs like only a son can perform the last rites, that lineage and inheritance runs through the male line. Small family norms coupled with independency and changing lifestyle of women further declining the trend of birth rates ending low probability of female child as well. Besides this, increasing crime against women example rape is also a matter of great concern for families due to which people prefer male child.

It has also been evident that there are pronounced regional differences in masculine bias. The proportion of women in India is lowest in Northwestern India (Haryana, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan etc) and highest in states like Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Apart from the regional differences, there lies a different pattern of correlation between literacy rate and sex ratio among different states in India.

Amartya Sen in his article ‘More than 100 million women are Missing’ concluded that the old saying majority of population is composed of women does not stand true. The opinion is limited to North America and Europe where the male to female ratio is above one. Whereas, countries like India China, South Asia, West Asia, North Africa etc. faces a low gender ratio. Sen, on the basis of his study argued that if men and women receive similar nutrition, health care and medical treatments then women will have more life expectancy.

Despite of the fact, that literacy rate is higher in urban areas, it is found that discrimination among genders is also higher. It may conclude that the women are literates in terms of obtaining various degrees but fail to develop mature mindset. With more knowledge and awareness, one can easily detect sex of the child by the use of new machines and technologies. Nuclear families make frequent use of such techniques in order to abort girl child. This shows that their mindsets of people towards sons preference to daughters, has yet not vanished from society. Further, due to engagement of women in the professional areas, couples prefer single child. Thus, it strongly argues that sex determination and female feticide is taking place more in urban areas where educated people over number as compared to rural areas.

However, there have been several efforts by the Centre and some State governments to create awareness about the skewed sex ratio and consequences related to it. ‘Save the girl child’ initiated by government in (2005) was an effort made by the government for spreading awareness among the citizens through different communication channels about the value of girl child and to make people realize that in today’s world woman are competing with man in every field. Some recent schemes with considerable cash transfers viz. ‘ Ladli’ launched in Haryana (2005) and Delhi (2008), ‘ Ladli Laxmi Yojana’ (2005) in Madhya Pradesh, ‘ Girl child Protection scheme’ (2005) in Andhra Pradesh and Dhan Lakshmi scheme (2005) have captured society’s attention and promoted female births and female education. These schemes have been designed with a view to provide financial incentives for families to encourage them to retain the girl child and educate her, but the main objective is to change the mindset of people who think that girl child is a burden and investing money on her education and living is a waste.

In recent years, decline in the child sex ratio (zero to six years) has accounted. The child sex ratio has shown a decline from 927 females in 2001 to 919 females per thousand males in 2011. The gap in the sex ration was not prevalent in 1981, except in traditionally and historically masculine states like Haryana and Punjab. Off late, the pattern observed in the child sex ratio has alarmed the minds of the think tankers. There are various districts and states which have shown downfall in the sex ratio which need to be addressed on priority basis. In fact, according to census 2001, 49 districts in the country were identified, where female ratio accounted a deficit of more than 150 per thousand male child aged 0-6 years. Majority of these districts were located in three northern and western states of Punjab, Gujarat and Haryana (Census2001).

Literature Review

A number of past researches have contributed in analyzing the change in the sex ratio of the country. (Mayer, 1999) examined the economic value of women which has emerged from earlier studies. The work of Boserup (1970) showed that the nature of women’s work in agriculture plays a major role in determining whether, at the time of marriage, women’s families receive a bride price or must give a dowry. Another study of Bardhan (1974) extended the ideology of Mayer proposing that in the areas with paddy agriculture, the economic value of a woman is more than in other areas so that the female child is less of a liability in say North and Northern west. Besides this, many other studies also showed the major differences in the demand for female labor in dry field plough agriculture and intensive wet-rice cultivation, as well. There are different demands for female labor between areas where rice is sown broadcast and in areas where it is cultivated by transplantation. Finally, differences in regional culture are the main factors in determining the economic value of women.

A group of Scholars including (Bardia, Paul, Anand, 2004) in their paper aims at studying the practice of female feticide more comprehensively in Ballabgarh, Faridabad district, Haryana. The author looked at the annual sex ratio at birth for the past 10 years in the area and correlated with the awareness, availability and assessment of ultrasound use and finds that the foremost factor leading to female feticide is a ‘felt need for male child’. Various factors affects the actual occurrence of female feticide such as knowledge of the people about the technology, government regulation of the use of the technology, professional code of conduct on the appropriate use of technology, social sanctions and ethical values about the practice of female feticide. Proper implementation of legislation is important to cure the problem.

(Raju, Premi, 1992) have attempted to analyze the study at two distinct levels viz. National, and Regional. According to them, variations in sex ratio are due to three processes: slowing down of out-migration, returning migration and continuance of male selective in-migration in some areas. Male selective in-migration is one of the reasons of adverse sex ratio in India because when migration occurs it is the men in the family who migrates first.

(Krishnan, 2004) has examined the data for past ten years which is showing decline in the sex ratio. The data supports the view that in earlier period ultrasound was used for sex determination. The increased availability of ultrasound machines in the areas in the past ten years corresponded to the decline in the sex ratio. When the government made this practice illegal, it was of no use as the law was not implemented and it only leads to worsening of sex ratio but later saw a more stringent implementation of the law and the sex ratio has improved again.

(Madan, 2013) have examined that economic growth and education has negative impact on the sex ratio. Female discrimination, selective female feticide is more common in urban areas than rural areas, where the number of literate people is more. Besides, the paper also suggests that changing the old tradition and cultural attitude of people is very difficult and time consuming. Therefore, focus should be made on present generation by giving them knowledge about the consequences of falling sex ratio, gender discrimination, evils of dowry etc.

Objectives of the Study

To compare overall sex ratio of BIMARU states over a period of time

To document the trends of Union Territories in overall sex ratio over a period of time

To analyze the increasing and decreasing trend of child sex ratio among states during the last decade

To examine the relationship between literacy rate and sex ratio among different states

To examine the relationship between population density and sex ratio among different states

Research Methodology

Data Source & Definition of Variables

The data has been largely collected through Census Reports. To analyze the change in the gender ratio, the major variables used in the present study are literacy rate and population density. Further, factors having a negative impact on GDP were also identified under which BIMARU states having poor growth was also considered for the comparison.

Selection of Major States

The selection of major states is based upon five criteria’s. One criteria of selection was based on productivity in which it was tried to analyze that whether productivity has a direct relation with growth of gender equality and vice-versa. It was also tried to establish a relationship between literacy and the change in the sex ratio. Another criterion was based on the population density. Further, based on the trend of increase or decrease rate, a comparison was made among states where improvement and decline was observed. The comparison between Union Territories was also analyzed.


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Inter-State Comparative Analysis. Trends and Determinants causing Gender Imbalance in India
Doon University
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gender, sex ratio, women, child, feticide, India
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Ramanpreet Kaur Nayyar (Author)Tanya Nautival (Author), 2017, Inter-State Comparative Analysis. Trends and Determinants causing Gender Imbalance in India, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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