Despite several social media campaigns and government schemes, the preference of a male child remains strong according to reports released on January 29 in the economic survey 2017-18. Drafted by Chief Economic Adviser Arvind Subramanian and his team, the survey says "Indian parents often continue to have children till they have the desired number of sons."
The economic survey is considered as a reflection of India’s economy before the budget and estimates that India could have 21 million “unwanted girls”. This implies that parents still want a son over a daughter. "Families that have sons are more likely to stop having children than families where a girl is born. This is suggestive of parents having children until they have as many sons as they want," the survey said.
The survey also talked about son 'meta-preference', a phenomenon where parents use protective measures until the desired number of sons are born. “This meta-preference leads naturally to the national category of ‘unwanted’ girls which is estimated at over 21 million,” the survey stated.
The pink colour document also specifies that India should make similar commitments in this field as they have done in the 'Ease of Doing Business' moving up ranks. In fact, there is a whole chapter dedicated to gender in the document.
At the same time, India has improved in some economic areas such as 12.5% increase in women in India who were involved in decisions about their own health. In 2005-06, the number was 62% while now it has gone up to 74%. Women who have not experienced physical or emotional violence also increased from 63 to 71% from 2005-06.