Original Articles

Sex-Composition of Living Children and Women’s Fertility Desire in Vietnam


Objective: To investigate the relationship between sex-composition of children and women’s fertility desire in Vietnam.
Materials and methods: Using data from the 2014 Vietnam Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS), we investigate the association between sex composition of children and desire for additional children among women in reproductive age (15 to 49 years) across Vietnam (N=5,605).
Results: Multivariate logistic regression models showed statistically significant association between sex composition of children and women’s fertility desire, after controlling for social norms of fertility preference, demographic and socioeconomic factors. For each group of women (those with one child, two children, and three or more children) women with no sons are more likely to have higher fertility desire compared to women with at least one son. However, women with both son (s) and daughter (s) tend to have lower fertility desire compared to those who have all sons.
Conclusion: Vietnam’s traditional cultural norm of son preference has a strong influence on fertility desire. Besides, mix-gender preference is also documented. The government should enforce the law more strictly regarding the prohibition of ultrasounds to detect fetal sex to reduce the feasibility of sex selection abortion. In addition, the government should improve the social ideology of the role of women in the family and society through mass media.

1. Thomson E, McDonald E, Bumpass LL. Fertility desires and fertility: hers, his, and theirs. Demography 1990; 27: 579-88.
2. Prior E, Lew R, Hammarberg K, Johnson L. Fertility facts, figures and future plans: an online survey of university students. Hum Fertil 2019; 22: 283-90.
3. Matovu JK, Makumbi F, Wanyenze RK, Serwadda D. Determinants of fertility desire among married or cohabiting individuals in Rakai, Uganda: a cross-sectional study. Reprod Health 2017; 14: 2.
4. Wiersema NJ, Drukker AJ, Mai BT, Giang HN, Nguyen TN, Lambalk CB. Consequences of infertility in developing countries: results of a questionnaire and interview survey in the South of Vietnam. J Transl Med 2006; 4: 54.
5. Pham BN, Hall W, Hill PS, Rao C. Analysis of socio-political and health practices influencing sex ratio at birth in Viet Nam. Reprod Health Matters. 2008; 16: 176-84.
6. Guilmoto CZ, Hoang X, Van TN. Recent increase in sex ratio at birth in Viet Nam. PLoS One 2009; 4: e4624.
7. Jayaraman A, Mishra V, Arnold F. The relationship of family size and composition to fertility desires, contraceptive adoption and method choice in South Asia. Int Perspect Sex Reprod Health 2009; 35: 29-38.
8. Calhoun LM, Nanda P, Speizer IS, Jain M. The effect of family sex composition on fertility desires and family planning behaviors in urban Uttar Pradesh, India. Reprod Health 2013;10:48.
9. Edmeades J, Pande R, Macquarrie K, Falle T, Malhotra A. Two sons and a daughter: sex composition and women's reproductive behaviour in Madhya Pradesh, India. J Biosoc Sci 2012; 44: 749-64.
10. Kastor A, Chatterjee S. Impact of Sex Composition of Living Children and Couples' Agreement on Subsequent Fertility in India. J Biosoc Sci 2018; 50: 666-82.
11. Guilmoto CZ. Son preference, sex selection, and kinship in Vietnam. Popul Dev Rev 2012; 38: 31-54.
12. Larsen U, Chung W, Das Gupta M. Fertility and son preference in Korea. Popul Stud (Camb). 1998; 52: 317-25.
13. Abeykoon AT. Sex preference in South Asia: Sri Lanka an outlier. Asia Pac Popul J 1995; 10: 5-16.
14. Clark S. Son preference and sex composition of children: Evidence from india. Demography 2000; 37: 95-108.
15. Mills M, Begall K. Preferences for the sex-composition of children in Europe: a multilevel examination of its effect on progression to a third child. Popul Stud 2010; 64: 77-95.
16. Andersson G, Hank K, Rønsen M, Vikat A. Gendering family composition: sex preferences for children and childbearing behavior in the Nordic countries. Demography 2006; 43: 255-67.
17. Hank K, Kohler HP. Gender Preferences for Children
in Europe Empirical Results from 17 FFS Countries. Demographic Research 2000; 2:1
18. United Nations. Population Division, World Population Prospects 2019.
19. General Statistics Office Vietnam. Population and Employment: Sex ratio of population by province 2017.
20. Hardy IC. Sex ratios: Concepts and research methods. Cambridge University Press UK; 2002.
21. Haughton J, Haughton D. Son preference in Vietnam. Stud Fam Plan 1995; 26: 325-7.
22. Guilmoto CZ. Gender bias in reproductive behaviour in Georgia, Indonesia, and Vietnam: An application of the own-children method. Popul Stud 2017; 71: 265-79.
23. Bélanger D. Son preference in a rural village in North Vietnam. Studies in Family Planning 2002; 33: 321-34.
24. Guilmoto, Christophe. Sex imbalances at birth:
current trends, consequences and policy implications. UNFPA, 2012.
25. Jiang Q, Li Y, Sanchez-Barricarte JJ. Fertility Intention, Son Preference, and Second Childbirth: Survey Findings from Shaanxi Province of China. Soc Indic Res 2016; 125: 935-53.
26. Morgan SP, Zhigang G, Hayford SR. China's Below-Replacement Fertility: Recent Trends and Future
Prospects. Popul Dev Rev 2009; 35: 605-29.
27. Poston DL Jr. Son preference and fertility in China.
J Biosoc Sci 2002; 34: 333-47.
28. Choi EJ, Hwang J. Transition of Son Preference: Evidence from South Korea. Demography 2020; 57: 627-52.
29. Goodkind D. Do parents prefer sons in North Korea? Stud Fam Plann 1999; 30: 212-8.
30. Kim S, Lee SH. Son Preference and Fertility Decisions: Evidence from Spatiotemporal Variation in Korea. Demography 2020; 57: 927-51.
31. Schuler SR, Hoang TA, Vu SH, Tan HM, Bui TT, Pham VT. Constructions of gender in Vietnam: in pursuit of the 'Three Criteria'. Cult Health Sex 2006; 8: 383-94.
32. Teerawichitchainan B, Prachuabmoh V, Knodel J. Productive aging in developing Southeast Asia: Comparative analyses between Myanmar, Vietnam and Thailand. Soc Sci Med 2019; 229: 161-71.
IssueVol 14, No 4 (December 2020) QRcode
SectionOriginal Articles
DOI https://doi.org/10.18502/jfrh.v14i4.5207
Sex Composition Fertility Desire Son Preference Mix-Gender Preference Gender Norms Vietnam

Rights and permissions
Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.
How to Cite
Yen N, Sukontamarn P, Dang T. Sex-Composition of Living Children and Women’s Fertility Desire in Vietnam. J Fam Reprod Health. 14(4):234-241.