Sex imbalance at birth in Vietnam: Rapid increase followed by stabilization

By Valentine Becquet, Christophe Z. Guilmoto, Catriona Dutreuilh

Vietnam is one of several countries in the world where sex-selective abortion has increased the proportion of male births in recent years. In the absence of exhaustive vital statistics data, we use two indirect methods based on the 2014 intercensal survey to identify trends in the sex ratio at birth (SRB) and to estimate preferences for children of a given sex. These methods provide similar results and confirm the steady increase in the SRB in Vietnam first observed in 2003. However, annual data from the General Statistics Office indicate that the SRB levelled off at between 112 and 113 male births per 100 female births in 2014, and the latest provisional data (2017) suggest that it has since remained relatively stable. Our analysis reveals the disparities in the SRB, which is more skewed in the northern regions and among the most affluent couples, as well as the diffusion of prenatal sex-selection across these regions and across socioeconomic groups over a five-year period. Parity progression ratios also point up differences in reproductive behaviour by showing that Vietnamese couples tend to have more children if they do not already have a son.


  • Vietnam
  • sex ratio at birth
  • prenatal sex selection
  • discrimination
  • gender
  • fertility
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