Old Habits Die Hard? Lingering Son Preference in an Era of Normalizing Sex Ratios at Birth in South Korea
Indonesia is usually viewed as a country free of the acute forms of gender discrimination observed elsewhere in East or South Asia, a situation often ascribed to Indonesia's bilateral kinship system. I re-examine this hypothesis by focusing on ethnic and regional variations in sex differentials. New indicators of marriage practices and gender bias derived from 2010 census microdata highlight the presence of patrilocal patterns as well as a distinct presence of son preference in fertility behaviour in many parts of the archipelago. I also present evidence for excessive child sex ratios and excess mortality of females in some areas that appear to be related to son preference and patrilocal residence systems. The findings confirm the association between son preference, sex differentials in mortality, prenatal sex selection, and kinship systems. I conclude with a more regional perspective on demographic vulnerability of females, distinguishing bilateral South East Asia from more patrilineal Melanesia.