• In your country, do you think most parents would prefer a boy or a girl? Why?
  • Who has a better life in your country, men or women?

In the News


Check out the news stories in the two links below. Please summarize each story using the document in the Exercise Link. Remember to tell us the Who, What, When , Where, and Why of each story.


  • ratio
  • due to chance interim
  • repugnant
  • ethnic groups
  • census
  • spark
  • sex-selective abortion
  • speculate
  • long-standing
  • ethnically diverse


Indian immigrants' 3rd child more likely to be a boy

Ratio of 136 boys to 100 girls raises issue of selective abortion

By Annie Burns-Pieper, CBC News

Indian girls

A study released today in the Canadian Medical Association Journal confirms previous research showing that the male-to-female ratio for third-born children to women born in India and living in Ontario is higher than the natural rate.

“The findings are highly unlikely to be due to chance,” says Dr. Joel Ray, the lead researcher, who is a clinician scientist at St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto.

Ray says his research was inspired by the controversial editorial written by Dr. Rajendra Kale, the former interim editor in chief of the CMAJ.

The January 2012 editorial suggested that what Kale called the “repugnant practice” of female feticide, or sex-selective abortion, played a part in previously studied high male-to-female sex ratios in specific ethnic groups in Canada.

The new study, prepared by Ray, Dr. David Henry and Marcelo Urquia, found that the third-child births of Indian-born women were at a ratio of 136 boys to 100 girls.

In comparison, third children of Canadian-born mothers in Ontario were born at the ratio of 105 boys to 100 girls, which is considered about normal for the worldwide average. Although Ray says he hasn’t found other explanations than selective abortion for why there would be higher male-to-female ratios in the Indian population he says, “it would be unfair to speculate.”

Long-standing issue in India

Balpreet Singh, legal counsel and acting executive director for the World Sikh Association of Canada, says the numbers are not surprising.

“The Indian culture no doubt has a preference for male children, it has been a long-standing issue in India, so it's not a surprise to me that trend is showing up here among immigrant women."

Ray and his co-authors say their research provides a more complete picture than previous research done on sex ratios, because instead of sampling census data, it looks at all 766,688 single live births in Ontario between 2002 and 2007. Each newborn was categorized according to the mother’s country or region of birth: Canada, Europe, South Korea, China, Philippines, rest of East Asia, Pakistan, India, rest of South Asia, and other countries.

The analysis also showed South Korean women in Ontario delivered 786 boys to 653 girls as second children. However, Ray states that the South Korean sample may be too small to tell if the findings are significant.

Ray says these findings should spark further research into why there are more boys than girls born in some ethnic communities in Canada. He notes that Ontario is the most ethnically diverse part of the country with the largest ethnic immigrant population.


  • What do you think about this? Is there enough evidence to suggest that some people are having abortions to select the sex of their children?
  • Is it fair to single out certain ethnic groups for this kind of study?
  • What do you think the government of Canada should do to prevent this?

Further Discussion 1

  • Is it important for the Canadian government to encourage new Canadians to conform to Canadian values?
  • What values should people be allowed to keep? Which should they give up?

Further Discussion 2

  • Should parents have the right to select their child’s sex?
  • What about disease or disability? Should parents have the right to choose not to have a baby if it’s going to have a severe medical condition?
  • What is cloning? Do you think it’s ethically ok?
  • Look at this website and read some of the reasons it gives in support of human cloning. Do you agree with any of them?
  • Imagine a future where we could choose any aspects of our child’s appearance, talents, or personality. Would you do such a thing? Do you think it would be right to do so?