Research Highlights

What good PNDT?

Subhra Priyadarshini

doi:10.1038/nindia.2008.329 Published online 1 December 2008

Improvements in socio-economic circumstances or introduction of policies that do not gel with societal norms and preferences are not likely to normalize the sex imbalance in India, according to a new study1.

Analysing a nationally representative sample of households with infants, researchers investigated the social patterning in sexes before and after the implementation of the Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PNDT) Act in 1996. The act regulates the misuse of technology for sex determination of foetuses and subsequent selective abortion. The study reveals that the odds of having a male infant were similar in the pre- and post-PNDT periods.

The researchers found that the odds of having a male infant increased with income quartiles. In households where the heads had received post-secondary education, the odds ratio of having a boy was more than for those who did not go to school at all. Interestingly, the odds of having a male child did not differ between high and low caste groups, and was not associated with the education of the spouse.

"While the issue of sex imbalance in South Asia is well recognized, less is known about its social patterning," says one of the researchers S. V. Subramanian about the rationale behind the study.

Among the states, Punjab had higher odds ratio of having a male infant compared to Kerala. Kerala, meanwhile, was not particularly different from the remaining Indian states. In the post-PNDT period, the income gradient in the odds of having a male infant was substantially weakened.

The authors of this work are from: Department of Society, Human Development and Health, Harvard School of Public Health, Huntington Avenue, Boston; and Public Health Foundation of India, August Kranti Marg, New Delhi, India.


References

  1. Subramanian, S. V. et al. Social analysis of sex imbalance in India: before and after the implementation of the Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PNDT) Act. J. Epidemiol. Commun. H. doi:  10.1136/jech.2008.078477 (2008)