There has been a bit in the news recently about Valerie Hudson's book Bare Branches on the gender imbalance in Asia, especially in China. China has been making efforts to encourage families to have girls, but I think this statement from a 60 Minutes interview is absolutely true, "I don't think the Chinese government can really tackle the roots of the entrenched son preference until it raises that ceiling on the number of children" a couple can have.
Boys are preferred in so many parts of the world that it would take a lot more than some government incentives to change that preference. It still always shocks me a bit to hear the easy assurance of many people in Kyrgyzstan when they talk about their disappointment when they have a daughter. A daughter or two is fine, if you have several sons to balance them out, but having more than one daughter to start off isn't a good sign.
I am uncomfortable when people specifically congratulate me on having boys- as if I had any say in the matter. I do not like the implication that I am happier because I happen to have boys instead of girls.
Anyway, Hudson is working on a project to create a database on women throughout the world that sounds fascinating:
She is overseeing a project, which is about 40 percent complete, to document 217 indicators of the status of women in 179 nation-states, including categories as varied as the practice of honor killings, levels of employment discrimination, caloric intake and age at the birth of the first child. The resulting database will be a tool useful for researchers in many fields.