Contrary to the stereotypical notion, girl bias or boy obsession isn’t limited just to Asia.
A Gallup poll shows that such a mindset is prevalent in the U.S., too and has been for at least 70 years. The poll asked 1,020 American adults, if they could have only one child, which gender they would prefer. Forty percent of the participants said a boy, while 28% answered a girl. This is not much different from the first poll results in 1941, which were 38% and 24%.
(MORE: Boy Bias: India Census Results Point to Selective Abortion)
In closer look, male respondents were disposed to show stronger gender preference than their female counterparts. Among men, 49% wanted a boy, while only 22% wanted a girl. For women, the margin was narrower: 33 to 31. Gallup also analyzed the findings according to age group, education level and political orientation.
Younger respondents expressed preference for a boy. Fifty-four percent of the participants in the 18-29 age group wanted a boy, and 27% percent wanted a girl. The numbers balanced out as the ages went up. Less-educated Americans tend to prefer a male child: 44% of high school graduates wanted a boy, and the number decreased progressively as the education level went up. Republicans, at 43%, had higher preference for boys than Democrats, at 39%.
These preferences could play out to be reality with the present day advanced technology. Doctors can tell the gender of the fetus as early as 18-22 weeks into pregnancy. And in vitro and other artificial insemination processes increase the chances of selecting the child’s gender.
It’s hard to say why America prefers boys. America lacks the dowry systems which exists in India or immediate need for physical laborers in agricultural societies. Although there is no clear explanation, the consequences of sex selection are grave. A 40% preference might not seem like a lot, but because we are dealing with such large numbers, the male population can easily outnumber women over a few generations of artificial selection. The Philadelphia Inquirer notes that generations of girl bias in Asia has eliminated 160 million future women, which is more than the total American female population. What would all these “surplus” men do, after all? The article goes on to argues that gender imbalance can lead to more violence in the world; statistically, men are more violent than women, and unmarried men can be even more so.