ISET

Georgia experienced a significant rise in Sex Ratio at Birth (SRB1) after its independence from the Soviet Union. Currently, it is among twelve countries worldwide where sex imbalances at birth have been observed. The other countries are Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, China, Hong Kong (SAR of China), India, the Republic of Korea, Montenegro, Taiwan (Province of China), Tunisia, and Vietnam.

Several studies (UNFPA 2015, 2017; Duthé at al. 2012) have provided a detailed analysis of reproductive behavior and birth masculinity in Georgia. These studies reveal that since 1992, deteriorating economic conditions coupled with strong son preference, low fertility rates, and access to affordable reproductive technologies have contributed to the increasing trend, one that lasted for almost 15 years, of an SRB imbalance in Georgia (via sex-selective abortions). SRB fluctuated around 114 from 1999-20042. Since 2004, SRB has been experiencing a reverse trend, reaching a normal level in 2016.

Gender-biased sex selection (GBSS) in favor of boys is an indicator of gender discrimination and highlights the inequality towards girls throughout many countries. Patriarchal structures reinforce a preference for sons and perpetuate a societal climate of violence and discrimination against women and girls. GBSS is moreover a symptom of the pervasive social, political, cultural, and economic injustices against women and girls. While, declining rates of fertility, and rapid technological developments that allow prenatal sex selection, have also further exacerbated these practices.

Since its independence from the Soviet Union, Georgia has experienced a significant rise in the number of male births over girls. A comprehensive countrywide report (2017), produced by UNFPA Georgia alongside the National Statistics Office of Georgia (Geostat), reveals that after reaching historically high levels in 2004 (115 boys per 100 girls), the sex ratio at birth (SRB) started to decline. This is certainly a positive direction towards greater gender equality, however, due to the notable preference for sons, most families in Georgia still wish to have at least one male child.

This study explores the factors behind the improvements in Sex Ratio at Birth (SRB) in Georgia over the last 15 years. It combines quantitative and qualitative analysis. Focus groups, in-depth interviews, and econometric analysis have highlighted the following determinants of SRB improvements: improved economic conditions, reduced poverty, increasing the economic share of the service sector (creating new job opportunities for women in banking, retail trade and other
office-related jobs), higher female employment (outside the agricultural sector), increased male educational attainment, and changes in socio-cultural and gender value systems. There is, however, insufficient evidence to suggest social policy
measures have had a significant impact in reducing Gender Biased Sex Selection (GBSS).

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