2015 • 32

Mapping gender preferences and sex imbalances in Indonesia

Christophe Z. Guilmoto


Indonesia is usually viewed as a country free of the acute forms of gender discrimination observed elsewhere in East or South Asia. This situation is often ascribed to Indonesia’s bilateral kinship system. This paper aims at re-examining gender differentials by focusing on ethnic and regional variations using new indicators of marriage practices and gender bias derived from 2010 census microdata. To do this, we first analyze the heterogeneous marriage systems across Indonesia and highlight the presence of patrilocal patterns in many parts of the archipelago. We also probe the presence of son preference in fertility behaviour. We finally examine the evidence of excessive child sex ratios and excess female mortality in some areas and show how they are related to son preference and patrilocal residence systems. The paper concludes with a broader regional perspective on female demographic vulnerability, distinguishing bilateral Southeast Asia from more patrilineal Melanesia.


Indonesia, Southeast Asia, Melanesia, gender discrimination, marriage patterns, sex differentials in mortality, prenatal sex selection, abortion.

Working Paper 32
Working Paper 32
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Mapping gender preferences and sex imbalances in Indonesia

[Research Report] Working Paper du Ceped #32, Centre Population et Développement. 2015, pp.32