Birth graphic.jpgThe New York Times reports on apparent evidence of sex selection among Asian immigrants, a cultural holdover from their home countries:

The trend is buried deep in United States census data: seemingly minute deviations in the proportion of boys and girls born to Americans of Chinese, Indian and Korean descent.

In those families, if the first child was a girl, it was more likely that a second child would be a boy, according to recent studies of census data. If the first two children were girls, it was even more likely that a third child would be male.

Demographers say the statistical deviation among Asian-American families is significant, and they believe it reflects not only a preference for male children, but a growing tendency for these families to embrace sex-selection techniques, like in vitro fertilization and sperm sorting, or abortion.

New immigrants typically transplant some of their customs and culture to the United States — from tastes in food and child-rearing practices to their emphasis on education and the elevated social and economic status of males. The appeal to immigrants by clinics specializing in sex selection caused some controversy a decade ago.

But a number of experts expressed surprise to see evidence that the preference for sons among Asian-Americans has been so significantly carried over to this country. “That this is going on in the United States — people were blown away by this,” said Prof. Lena Edlund of Columbia University.

What I don’t know about are laws–or lack thereof–governing sex selection. Later in the story, an increasingly controversial fertility doc, Jeffrey Steinberg, indicates he faces no problems ad has started offering sex selection services in New York.

“Culturally, there are a lot of strange things that go on in the world,” Dr. Steinberg said. “Whether we agree with it, it’s not harming anyone.”



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