Demographic and Socio-Cultural Study of Gender Preference in Iran

This study presents research-based evidence to examine the patterns and determinants associated with gender preference in Iran from demographic and socio-cultural perspectives. The importance of such studies lies in the fact that despite substantial progress in contemporary societies leading to a more important social revolution so-called ‘revolution in gender roles’, gender preference still exists in human societies. In his book titled A General Theory of Gender Stratification, Blumberg (1984) has simply and clearly documented this issue: 'remember the Golden Rule: He who has the gold makes the rules'. In fact, the large body of literature reviewed in this article also indicates that gender preference has substantially persisted as a social problem throughout human societies.

Materials & Methods

This analysis is based on a survey conducted in rural and urban areas of Ahvaz, Babolsar, Bojnord, Esfarayen, Gonbad Kavos, Khoramabad, Mahmoudabad, and Hamadan. The survey includes 3667 males and females aged 15 years old and over. The research data has been collected using questionnaire. Then, SPSS has been employed in order to analyze the research data. The key dependent variable of the present analysis is gender preference, which has been defined and classified in four categories: 'son preference', 'daughter preference', 'no preference, neither for son nor for daughter', 'preference for equal number of sons and daughters'. Further, this analysis includes three main groups of dependent variables: First, basic variables such as age, sex, place of residence, education. Second, variables related to gender attitudes measured by attitudes towards women's employment and male-bread-winner model. Third, demographic variables such as the number of children, gender composition of children, and the ideal number of children.

Discussion of Results & Conclusion:
Generally speaking, the results of this study illustrate that only one-third of the respondents reject gender preference, whereas the remaining majority hold positive attitudes toward gender preference. However, these general patterns are significantly associated with three major categories of determinants. The first category refers to basic variables such as age, sex and education: 'son preference' is stronger among men than women as it is stronger among people living in rural areas than those living in urban areas. Moreover, education level has significant effect on gender preference: the lower the education level, the stronger the tendency towards gender preference. More specifically, among illiterates, the tendency towards 'son preference' is three times greater than that towards 'daughter preference'. However, gender preference becomes increasingly weaker as level of education goes up so that highly-educated people hold the lowest level of gender preference.

The second category refers to variables related to gender roles attitudes. According to the results of this analysis, the pattern of 'son preference' is significantly affected by traditional and conservative attitudes towards gender roles: the stronger the latter, the more visible the former. Controversy, those holding modern and liberal attitudes towards gender roles are substantially less in favour of gender preference. The third category refers to demographic determinants. For instance, gender preference particularly 'son preference' tends to be more common among people with a larger number of children. Furthermore, the gender composition of the existing children has a significant impact on gender preference, suggesting that the pattern of son preference becomes significantly weaker among people who already have an equal number of male and female children.

In sum, the underlying conclusion of this analysis refers to the fact that the patterns of gender preference are substantially associated with modernism so that gender preference in general and son preference specifically tend to be significantly less evident among people with more liberal and modern attitudes. In contrary, those holding stronger traditional attitudes are more likely to have gender preference particularly son preference. This underlying conclusion can be observed and explained through such basic determinants as age or education, and more visibly through attitudes towards gender roles measured by women's employment and male-bread-winner model: those with more liberal and modern attitudes towards gender roles hold a weaker tendency towards gender preference, whereas such a tendency is significantly stronger amongst those with more traditional and conservative attitudes towards gender roles
Article Type:
Research/Original Article
Journal of Applied Sociology the University of Isfahan, Volume:29 Issue: 4, 2018
59 - 78  
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