In spite of the significant campaign for the equality and desirability of both sexes of children, empirical evidence and reality indicate that the practice of child-sex preference is still rampant in Nigeria. The study examined differentials in sex preference between rural and urban areas in Kaduna state. A total of 400 respondents, were sampled randomly for questionnaire administration with urban and rural areas having 200 respondents each. Focus Group Discussion (FGDs) and In Depth Interviews were employed to elicit information for the study. The collected data were analyzed respectively using frequencies in simple percentages and chi-square. Sex preference was found in both urban and rural areas of the state. However, majority of the rural respondents (57.5%) prefer more males and few female than those in the urban areas with (46.0%). Also, preference for more males and few females was higher among the men respondents (61.3%) when compared with the women respondents with (51.9%) in the rural areas. The chi- square result revealed a significant difference in sex preference in urban and rural areas (χ2= 13.616, df= 3, p-value = 0.003). Also, the study shows that perpetuation of family lineage accounted for the major reason for male child preference in both urban (52.5%) and rural (54.0%). It further revealed that support for old age and security as a reason for female preference was higher in the rural areas (57.0%) when compared with the urban areas (55.5%). In addition, the study showed that the absence of a preferred sex leads to continued child bearing in both urban and rural areas and this view was higher among the male respondents than the female respondents. The study further show that majority of the male respondents in both urban and rural areas agreed that the absence of a male child could result to marriage instability which was on the contrary in the absence of a female child, while the commonest type of instability experienced by couples in the absence of the preferred sex is sexual deprivation. The study therefore recommended that family education especially on sex equality and sensitivity should be carried out. Also, social insurance scheme by the government should be more effective especially in the rural areas to enable people move away from long time cultural belief that are gender bias.
1.1BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
The world population is increasing, In the year 2000, it was estimated that the
population of the world was growing by about 78 million per year at the rate of 1.4%, and was projected to rise to over 8 billion in 2025 (UNFPA,1999). The growth is as a result of persistently high fertility, and at the same time, the level of infant and child mortality decreases significantly during the last decades, mainly due to immunization programme together with discoveries of life-saving drugs and other antibiotics, and to some extent due to various public health measures and nutritional in-take recorded in some parts of the world (Kamla, 2007).
While the developed countries of the world have experienced a decline in fertility and demographic transition from an already low level of 2.8 children per woman in 1950-1955 to an extremely low level of 1.6 children per woman in 2005-2010, fertility is only beginning to decline in the developing countries where fertility rate is still in excess of 5.2 children per woman (UNFPA, 1999). Accordingly, May (2006) reported that despite a new awareness and great efforts by African governments, the continent is a late comer, the last region in the world to begin to seriously address over population. But it is like a runner on a tread mill, they are running very fast but unfortunately the tread mill is running faster than they are, the population growth is so fast and so rapid in many ways that they cannot just cope with the challenges of providing services, especially in education, health and employment for the population.