Thematic issue: The legacy of Corrado Gini in population studies

Sex imbalances at birth in migratory context: evidence from Italy

Elena Ambrosetti, Livia Elisa Ortensi, Cinzia Castagnaro, Marina Attili


This paper aims to explore SRB of migrants in Italy in order to shed light on the phenomenon of sex selection at birth. Our objective is to analyze births from mothers with a foreign background from countries where sex selection at birth is widespread and that are among the largest immigrant communities in Italy. In addition our paper aims at assessing what are the possible factors affecting skewed SRB in migratory context. Data stems from the Survey on births from the Resident Population Registers, from Birth Assistance Certificate (CEDAP) dataset for the year 2008-9 collected by the Italian Ministry of Health in Lombardy, and from the First Regional Survey on Sexual and Reproductive Health of Migrant Women held in Lombardy in 2010. We perform both descriptive and multivariate analysis. For multivariate analysis we chose Lombardy as a case study, as it is the first Italian region by number of migrants. Results both at the national and at the regional level show skewed sex ratio at birth for migrants originating from India, China and Albania. The phenomenon is more evident for higher-order births in a context of declining fertility associated with new techniques to assess the sex of the foetus.

Elena AMBROSETTI, Researcher, Department of Methods and Models for Economy, Territory and Finance, “Sapienza” University of Rome, Italy. E-mail:

Livia Elisa ORTENSI, Researcher, Department of Sociology and Social Research, Bicocca University of Milan, Italy. E-mail:

Cinzia CASTAGNARO, Researcher, Istituto Nazionale di Statistica (Istat), Rome, Italy. E-mail:

Marina ATTILI, Researcher, Istituto Nazionale di Statistica (Istat), Rome, Italy. E-mail:



sex selection; sex ratio at birth; gender; migration; Italy

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ISSN: 2035-5556

Reg. Tribunale di Roma n. 3321/54