Sex Imbalances at Birth in Armenia

Demographic Evidence and Analysis

No. of pages: 79

Publication date: 2013

Author: Christophe Z. Guilmoto IRD/CEPED Paris

Publisher: UNFPA Armenia Country Office

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Since the 1980s, sex imbalances at birth have been observed in many countries across the world as the proportion of boys simultaneously increased in the child population. Over the last twenty years, research on countries such as China, India and South Korea has demonstrated the primary role played by sex selective abortions in the gradual rise in the sex ratio at birth above its biological level of 104-106 male births per 100 female births. Currently, this male surplus is a reflection of serious discrimination against women. In the forthcoming decades, it will also transform population structures and severely affect the dynamics of marriage.

It is only recently that attention has started to focus on Europe and North America. Elevated levels of birth masculinity have, for instance, been found among many Diaspora and immigrant communities living in the industrialized world. The demographic situation in Southeastern Europe and in the South Caucasus has also been the subject of interest as the gap between the number of male and female births has been growing since the 1990s in several countries. Armenia, the focus of this report, has witnessed a growing sex imbalance at birth. The sex ratio at birth rose immediately after Armenia’s independence to a high level and today it remains at the very high level of 114-115 of male births per 100 female births. This corresponds to one of the highest levels of birth masculinity observed anywhere in the world, surpassed only by China (118) and Azerbaijan (116).

This study has arisen out of concern for the nature and implications of the sex imbalances observed in Armenia for almost two decades. It aims at providing a systematic review of available statistical evidence in order to establish the magnitude of adverse sex ratios, their demographic and socioeconomic determinants as well as their potential consequences for Armenia’s population dynamics. The methodology is based mostly on the in-depth analysis of two original anonymized datasets made available to us by the National Statistical Service for this study: the exhaustive 2001 census records including 478,000 children under the age of 10, and the database of 386,000 individual births registered in the country from 2001-2010. We have also made use of other survey data on reproductive health and sex selection issues, as well as the limited qualitative documentation on gender and family issues in contemporary Armenia.