Vietnam is becoming another country with “disappearing daughters”. According to a report in PLoS ONE by French and Vietnamese demographers, the sex ratio at birth has increased rapidly over the past 5 years. The latest figures show that it has reached 112 boys for 100 girls – where the natural biological ratio is 105 to 100. This is nearly the same as China and India. In some regions, it rises as high as 121 to 100.

Demographers say that Vietnam – which now has a population of about 85 million — has a classic combination of factors which favour an increasing sex ratio: a patriarchal system with a  strong preference for sons, demographic and economic change, strong family planning regulations and easy access to abortion. Furthermore, the Vietnamese are being urged by the government to reduce their fertility, which encourages people to resort to abortions to avoid having daughters instead of having another child in the hope of having a son.

And finally, sex selection technology is readily available nowadays. Sex selective abortions are illegal, but as in China and India, people find ways around the law.

Prior determination of the sex of the foetus and its later confirmation through further scans are a major objective of pregnant mothers and explain in part the large public enthusiasm observed for the new technology. When the annual Population Change, Labour Force and Family Planning Survey asked in 2006 for the first time mothers about prenatal sex diagnosis, 63.5% among them declared they knew in advance the sex of their child.

Michael Cook

Michael Cook is the editor of MercatorNet.