Comparative Analysis Of Rural-Urban Differentials In Sex Preference In Kaduna State, Nigeria

Project and Seminar Material for Geography

Comparative Analysis Of Rural-Urban Differentials In Sex Preference In Kaduna State, Nigeria


Abstract


In spite of the significant campaign for the equality and desirability of both sexes of children, empirical evidence and reality indicate that the practice of child-sex preference is still rampant in Nigeria. The study examined differentials in sex preference between rural and urban areas in Kaduna state. A total of 400 respondents, were sampled randomly for questionnaire administration with urban and rural areas having 200 respondents each. Focus Group Discussion (FGDs) and In Depth Interviews were employed to elicit information for the study. The collected data were analyzed respectively using frequencies in simple percentages and chi-square. Sex preference was found in both urban and rural areas of the state.

However, majority of the rural respondents (57.5%) prefer more males and few female than those in the urban areas with (46.0%). Also, preference for more males and few females was higher among the men respondents (61.3%) when compared with the women respondents with (51.9%) in the rural areas. The chi- square result revealed a significant difference in sex preference in urban and rural areas (χ2= 13.616, df= 3, p-value = 0.003). Also, the study shows that perpetuation of family lineage accounted for the major reason for male child preference in both urban (52.5%) and rural (54.0%).

It further revealed that support for old age and security as a reason for female preference was higher in the rural areas (57.0%) when compared with the urban areas (55.5%). In addition, the study showed that the absence of a preferred sex leads to continued child bearing in both urban and rural areas and this view was higher among the male respondents than the female respondents.

The study further show that majority of the male respondents in both urban and rural areas agreed that the absence of a male child could result to marriage instability which was on the contrary in the absence of a female child, while the commonest type of instability experienced by couples in the absence of the preferred sex is sexual deprivation. The study therefore recommended that family education especially on sex equality and sensitivity should be carried out. Also, social insurance scheme by the government should be more effective especially in the rural areas to enable people move away from long time cultural belief that are gender bias.


Chapter One


Introduction

1.1 Background to the Study

The world population is increasing, In the year 2000, it was estimated that the population of the world was growing by about 78 million per year at the rate of 1.4%, and was projected to rise to over 8 billion in 2025 (UNFPA,1999). The growth is as a result of persistently high fertility, and at the same time, the level of infant and child mortality decreases significantly during the last decades, mainly due to immunization programme together with discoveries of life-saving drugs and other antibiotics, and to some extent due to various public health measures and nutritional in-take recorded in some parts of the world (Kamla, 2007).

While the developed countries of the world have experienced a decline in fertility and demographic transition from an already low level of 2.8 children per woman in 1950-1955 to an extremely low level of 1.6 children per woman in 2005-2010, fertility is only beginning to decline in the developing countries where fertility rate is still in excess of 5.2 children per woman (UNFPA, 1999). Accordingly, May (2006) reported that despite a new awareness and great efforts by African governments, the continent is a late comer, the last region in the world to begin to seriously address over population. But it is like a runner on a tread mill, they are running very fast but unfortunately the tread mill is running faster than they are, the population growth is so fast and so rapid in many ways that they cannot just cope with the challenges of providing services, especially in education, health and employment for the population.

The preference for a particular sex among couples, and the continued support given by socio–cultural factors such as patriarchy, support for parents at old age, title inheritance, and morbidity issues are some of the factors that have been identified as contributing directly to continued high fertility in developing countries of Asia, Latin America and Africa (Caldwell, 2004). Continued insistence on achieving desired fertility by couples has brought serious strain on the families and marriages thereby leading to a breakdown in family ties, separation and subsequently divorce. The rising rate of marital instability in Nigeria is caused by so many socio-cultural and economic factors but most importantly sex preference (Akpan,1998).

Sex refers to the biological and physical differences between men and women (Hamm, 1996; Mason, 2000; and Moser, 2001). Sex preference which is the wish of individuals to have a particular sex of child has been documented in a large number of countries though the degree of such preference varies from one country to another depending on such factors as the level of economic development, social norms, cultural and religious practices, marriage and family systems, degree of urbanization and the nature of social security system (Das Gupta, 1997; Caldwell and Caldwell, 1997; Ottong, 1997; Akpan, 1998; Bairagi, 2001; Isiugo-Abanihe,2003).

In this study, a rural area is an area with population of less than 20,000 which has agriculture as its main occupation while an urban area is a large settlement, with population of 20,000 and above which greatly depend on cash income and lower reliance on agricultural activities (Onyemelukwa, 1982; Salau, 1982; UN, 1990). Morris (2005) and Mott (2005) in their separate studies observed that the economic motivation for children exerts a weaker influence in the urban area than in rural areas where the demand for child labor in agriculture and allied activities is greater. The changing behavior of parents then turns towards the sex composition of children; as they expect more old age support from male children, they prefer sons resulting in an increase in fertility and poor attitudes towards family planning. Also, in rural areas, intergenerational transfer of land is critical, thus land inheritance norms may affect perceptions of the relative importance of sons and daughters considering the fact that in some societies, land is passed on only to sons regardless of inheritance laws but since urbanites engage in non-agricultural labor, intergenerational transfer of property such as land may be less significant issue. Therefore, urban residents and individual in the non – agricultural labor force may be less likely to have sex preferences for children.

Studies investigating gender preferences at different stages of development have reported substantial gender heterogeneity across developed countries with a tendency towards a mild preference for a mixed sex composition (Marleau and Saucier, 2002). In developing countries, most of the literature document son preference (Arnold 1992; Kuate, 1998). The strongest result documenting son preference occurs in the Asian and African countries. There are few instances in which a preference for daughter has been documented. For example, the World Fertility Survey (WFS) found that considerably more women wanted a daughter for their next child than a son in Jamaica and Venezuela (Cleland, Vaessen and Verrall 1983). It has also been observed that once parents are closer to achieving their total desired number of children, the gender composition of children already born becomes an important determinant of whether parents have another child (Eguavoen, Obetoh and Odiagbe 2007).

Studies have also shown that in Kaduna state as, sex preference may not be pronounced as in China, South Asia, South Korea, and India but it exist nonetheless, a variety of historical, moral, ethical and economic factors underlie sex preference, the patriarchal family structure and the resulting strong preference for sons became institutionalized values and therefore formed part of the way of life of the people. These traditions also stress the significance of carrying on the family line through male progeny. Also, sex preference has not kept pace with societal changes because of posterity; the desire for a son to carry on the family name and guarantee father‟s pseudo-immortality. Mother‟s are blamed for producing girls, even by those who know that a father‟s chromosomes determine the sex of the child. The general acceptance among the educated classes is that a daughter is as good as a son but sons, are still preferred.

Although, the subject of sex preference of children has been studied by many scholars in diverse culture (Arnold, 1992), to the best of my knowledge there is no systematic study of rural – urban differentials in sex preference in Kaduna state. There is thus a need for studying sex preference among urban and rural dwellers of Kaduna state where fertility rates are very high. In the light of the above, this study aims at examining the differentials in sex preference between rural and urban dwellers of Kaduna state.


1.2 Statement of the Research Problem

In spite of the significant campaign for the equality and desirability of both sexes of children, empirical evidence and reality indicate that the practice of child-sex preference is still rampant in Nigeria (Eguavoen, 2007). Data available from the Nigerian National Demographic and Health Surveys are silent on the issue of sex preference; attention is paid mainly to family size and not to the preferred sex composition of the family. The problem with this is that the preferred family size is usually mediated by the actual sex composition of the children. For example, a couple who wishes to have just three or four children may have to alter this preference if the actual fertility outcome does not satisfy their hopes and aspirations with regards to sex composition, this practice hinders desired fertility decline. The desire to have a particular sex of a child can lead to sex selective abortion as advanced medical technologies such as ultra sound and amniocentesis in health facilities have been used to determine the sex of an unborn child. Therefore, most parents abort a foetus which is not in a preferred sex (Ruffolo and Wongboons, 1995). The persistence and adherence to this can lead to an imbalance in the sex ratio of the population (Coale and Banister, 1994; Cho and Park,1995).

Adeleye (2010) investigated men‟s gender preferences and the possible association with their knowledge of related maternal mortality indices. Using a cross – sectional design, a structured questionnaire was administered to 369 randomly selected males aged 18–75years in Ekiadolor, Nigeria. The study shows that the variability in gender preference with respect to age, marital status and educational level were not statistically significant. Never the less, rural – urban differentials in sex preference was not the focus of the study as it is in this case.

Despite the volume of research on sex preference carried out in Nigeria, none of the above mentioned studies was carried out in Kaduna state which comparatively differs in background characteristics. Although, Yakubu (2011) studied the influence ofsex preference and sex stereotyping on the education of girl- child in Kaduna metropolis but did not consider rural –urban differentials in sex preference which is the gap that this study seeks to fill.


1.3 Research Questions

  1. Which is the preferred sex of children in rural and urban areas in Kaduna state?
  2. What are the socio-cultural reasons for sex preference in the study area?
  3. Does sex preference have any effect on completed fertility in the study area?
  4. What is the effect of sex preference on marital stability in the study area?

1.3 Aim and Objectives

The aim of the study is to examine differentials in sex preference between rural and urban areas in Kaduna state. This will be achieved through the following objectives which are to:

  1. Examine the level of sex preference between rural and urban areas in the study area.
  2. Analyze the socio-cultural reasons for sex preference between rural and urban areas in the state.
  3. Analyze the effect of sex preference on completed fertility in rural and urban areas of the state.
  4. Examine the effect of sex preference on marital stability in rural and urban areas of Kaduna state.

1.4 Scope of the Study

The study covered three (3) Local Government Areas of Kaduna State The selected LGAs are: Zaria, Igabi, and Zangon-Kataf. In terms of content coverage, the study identified the differentials that exist between rural and urban in sex preference in Kaduna state. The respondent were married persons (males and females) that is whether currently married, widowed, separated, or divorced between the ages of 18 and 60,who reside in both rural and urban areas of the state. The time frame for carrying out this study was between the periods of three (6) months.


1.5 Justification for the Study

An analysis of sex preference of children is important from the demographic perspective. Firstly preferences for children of a particular sex can have a profound effect on the actual completed family size. Any policy directed towards fertility reduction must take into account not only overall family size desired but also sex composition of the desired number of children and the reason for the existence of such preferences. Secondly, there is an inverse relationship between the degree of son preference and the status of women in a particular society. Thirdly, the importance of studying sex preference of children is derived from the fact that these preferences have the potentials of shaping the fertility behavior of couples. Information on reproductive attitudes may be helpful in understanding the factors that affect fertility, marital stability and types of marriage in the society. The information derived from this study will be useful to research institutions, Federal, State and Local Government; International Agencies, Non-governmental Organizations (NGOs) and individual researchers. It will also provide a baseline data for policy formulation, planning and further research.


Chapter Five


Summary of Findings, Conclusion and Recommendations

5.1 Summary of Findings

  1. The result reveals that urban areas have higher preference for equal number of both sexes than the rural areas while the rural areas have higher preference for more males and few females than the urban areas. It further shows higher preference of more male and few female children among the male respondents in the rural areas compared with the urban areas and among the women respondents.
  2. The study shows that the strongest reason for male child preference is for perpetuation of family lineage in both urban and rural areas. It further reveals that support for old age and security as a reason for male preference is higher in the rural areas when compared with the urban areas. Among the urban respondents, preference for female child is mainly for old age support and security while their rural counterparts prefer female both for old age support and security as well as for bride price collection. The chi square result reveals that the difference between place of residence and reason for male preference is not statistically significant. While that of female children was significant.
  3. The level of education according to the findings of this study is revealed as a factor for sex preference given that there is higher preference for more males and few females across the educational levels in both urban and rural areas. Among those with no formal educational level, the rural areas have more preference for more males and few females than those in the urban areas while equal number of males and females was higher in the urban areas than rural amongtherespondentswithtertiaryeducationallevel.Asindicated,moreMuslim respondents in the rural areas prefer more males and few females than their urban counterparts, while among the Christian and Muslim respondent, preference for more males and few females was higher in the rural areas compared with the urban areas.
  4. Absence of preferred sex as revealed by this study is a factor for continuing child bearing. It shows that in both urban and rural areas, continuity of child bearing without the preferred sex was higher among the male respondents than the female. However, more females in rural areas tend to encourage continued child bearing in the absence of preferred sex when compared with the urban counterparts.
  5. Finally, the result revels that more males in both urban and rural areas agreed that the absence of male child could result in marriage instability. Although, it was higher among the male respondents in the rural areas than the urban areas. While on the contrary, the absence of a female child rarely leads to marriage instability. Also, sexual deprivation was the commonest type of instability experienced by couples in both urban and rural areas.

5.2 Conclusion

This study has clearly revealed that sex preference does exist in both urban and rural areas of the state and that it constitutes a problem for future fertility reduction as it has been shown that the total fertility rates would have been lower than it is in the absence of sex preference. However, majority of the rural respondents prefer more males and few females than those in the urban areas while preference for equal numbers of male and female children is common in urban areas. There is therefore an urgent need for enforcement of the population policy measures that recommend an appropriate family size irrespective of the sex combination. There is also need for mass education to improve the status of women in the nation and make the nation gender sensitive.


5.3 Recommendations

  1. Cultural reorientation to modify certain socio-cultural practices and norms (example, inheritance and succession) that are gender biased. This will help to place equal value on each sex of achild.
  2. Government should put in place an initiative such as the proper education of the girl child, which will improve the status of women and enhance their role and participation in the developmentprocess.
  3. There is need for introduction of a social insurance scheme for all Nigerian citizens. This will reduce the demand for male children as a form of support in oldage.
  4. Couples in both urban and rural areas should be counseled by doctors and health personnel on the consequences of sex preference if it is sensed that they are likely going to prefer a particular sex especially the pregnant mothers.
  5. There is an urgent need for enforcement of the population policy measures that recommend an appropriate family size irrespective of the sex combination.
  6. In view of the fact that religion is a significant force in attitude formation and that most people in the study area believe that it is God that determine the sex of a child, the religious leaders should be effectively involved in propagating the message of equality of sex and more so, intervention programmes such as family education especially on sex equality and sensitivity should target residents in rural and urban areas and individuals of all ages, Such attempts may take time, but the end results will be very worth while.

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