Original Research

Sex-selective abortion in Vietnam during 1999-2009: the first quantitative study at national level


Introduction: The sex ratio at birth has dramatically increased since 1999 in Vietnam and stood at 112.7 boys per 100 girls in 2017. This figure alarms many female fetuses are aborted for sex-selection but the numerical evidence is unknown. To depict an accurate picture about the sex-selective abortion, we conducted a study to analyze the national data for sex-abortion in Vietnam.

Methods: To estimate the number of sex-selective abortions between 1999 and 2009, the 2009 Census and 1999 Life table of Vietnam were adopted. We calculated the actual number of female and male births for ten years using the reverse survival method. Then the number of sex-selective abortions was the gap between the expected and actual numbers of female births.

Results: There was 217,902 sex-selective abortions, which accounted for 11.8% of all causes of abortion in Vietnam from 1999 to 2009. The number of sex-selective abortions was nearly double from 74,179 in 1999-2004 to 143,723 in 2005-2009, even the national punishments on sex-selective abortion were launched since 2003.

Conclusions: Female fetuses are more likely aborted before birth for sex-selection in Vietnam because of the son preference. In the situation of Vietnam, changing the social norm regarding female values and roles in both family and society is the key solution to end this problem.

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