A Fairfield University pilot study, "Impact India 2021: Elevating the Value of Women and Girls in Society," finds that India's sex ratio imbalance crisis is being driven by complex family dynamics such as gender dynamics, the choice of many families choosing to have a male child.
According to the 2011 National Census of India, there were 914 girls born for every 1,000 boys; in some regions reaching as low as 824 girls. These figures are alarming in comparison to the United Nation's 2010 Population Sex Ratio norm of 101.7 males to 100 females. The Indian census numbers therefore show a severe sex ratio imbalance in the nation. The Indian state, numerous global agencies, NGOs and researchers contend that as women become a minority in the population, there is bound to be a detrimental effect on both India's economic development and social stability.
The study said this crisis is being fueled by complex family pressures, including the belief that boys will be better wage earners, and that boys will be more likely to take care of their aging parents. This study also indicates that elders in the family and husbands prefer a male child; while wives pointed out that they had little choice in the matter.
The study begins to map pathways to change attitudes about the value of girls and women in society so that this attitudinal shift can be discernible by the next Indian Census of 2021.
Undertaken in partnership with St. Xavier's in Mumbai and Loyola College in Chennai, the study surveyed families within the upper layer of the lower class and lower layer of the middle class. The findings suggest that this sex imbalance ratio — which is on the increase — is likely to be a major impediment to the future development of India, according to Fairfield University, which is located in Fairfield, Conn.
Gita Rajan, a professor of English and senior research fellow at Fairfield University's Center for Faith and Public Life, and Rev. Richard Ryscavage, a professor of sociology and director of the Center for Faith and Public Life, oversaw the study, which was also done consultation with the Office of Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women's Issues Melanne Verveer at the U.S. Department of State.