The author is Mara Hvistendahl, and the subtitle is Choosing Boys over Girls, and the Consequences of a World Full of Men. It will make my best books of 2011 list, excerpt:
A recent paper in the journal Reproductive Health Matters states, “For women attempting to have a son and experiencing pressure to fulfill their ‘womanly duty’ by having a male child, sex-selective abortion can be extremely empowering.” The other, more tragic factor…is that women know best just how difficult it is to be female.
…Liao Li also tells me she prefers daughters. “Girls are very good,” she says. “They’re soft. And they take care of you when you’re older.” But she aborted two female fetuses, she intimates, because having a son is crucial to keeping up appearances: “If you don’t have a boy, you lose face.”
Women have become, in a sense, their own worst enemies. Development, remember, was supposed to improve the lot of women — and in many areas it does. But when it comes to reproduction, the opposite happens: women use their increased autonomy to select for sons.
Here is one good review. I also learned from this book how prevalent the sex imbalance problem is becoming in some parts of the Balkans.