Korea's traditional preference for baby boys seems to be receding, a survey suggests. In a poll released Tuesday by the Korea Institute of Childcare and Education (KICE), 37.4 percent of men whose wife was pregnant at the time of the survey wanted to have a daughter, and 28.6 percent a son. Among mothers 37.9 percent also preferred to have a baby girl while only 31.3 percent hoped for a son.
The survey was conducted among 2,078 households where the mother gave birth in April to July 2008.
The overall gender ratio stood at 106.4 boys to 100 girls in 2008, down from 110.2 in 1998 and within the normal range of between 103 and 107.
Another survey by the Korea Institute for Health and Social Affairs showed similar results. In the triennial survey, the proportion of married women who said there should be a son in a family plummeted from 40.5 percent in 1991 to 10.2 percent in 2006.
Meanwhile, the KICE survey reveals that the proportion of Caesarean deliveries remains extremely high in Korea with 44.6 percent of babies born in 2008. The proportion was significantly lower in Norway (16.6 percent), Denmark (20.3 percent), Sweden (16.5 percent), and EU and Japan (around 20 percent).
"There are obstetricians who tend to persuade mothers to have a Caesarean, and some parents want to give birth to a baby at a particular time due to superstitions that it will have a good future," said a KICE researcher. "All these factors increase the proportion of Caesarean deliveries."
A Caesarean requires 6.9 days of hospitalization and costs W1.07 million, while natural childbirth allows the mother to be discharged 3.3 days after delivery on average and costs only W730,000 (US$1=W1,124).
"As an increasing number of women gets pregnant at a later age, the rate of pregnancy complication like gestosis is rising, leading to a higher proportion of Caesarean deliveries," a Health Insurance Review and Assessment Service official claimed. In a 2008 survey by the service, the rate of Caesareans stood at 48.4 percent among women aged 35 to 39 while it was 26.1 percent among women aged between 20 and 24.