Changing trend? Sex ratios of children born to Indian immigrants in Norway revisited

Marianne Tønnessen, Statistics Norway
Vebjørn Aalandslid, Statistics Norway
Terje Skjerpen, Statistics Norway

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. In this article we have seen whether extended time series for the period 2006-2012 give further support to this claim. Based on data from the Norwegian Central Population Register we 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 we tested whether the observed sex differences among Indian-born women were significantly different from sex differences among all births. Contrary to findings from earlier periods and other Western countries, we found that Indian-born women in Norway gave birth to more girls than boys of higher order in the period 2006-2012. This is somewhat surprising, since sex selection is usually expected to be stronger if the mother already has two or more children. We 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.

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Presented in Session 44: Fertility and reproductive behaviour among immigrant populations