Some of the ingrained preference is due to the norms governing inheritance, the continued practice of paying a dowry for female children to be married and the tradition of “patrilocality” — women joining their husband’s households — and rituals which need to be performed by male children.

According to the report, 55% of couples who have a girl will try for another child and will keep trying until they have a boy. It’s referred to in the report as fertility “stopping rules.”

Subramanian told India’s NDTV the decision to have more babies until there was a boy had offset the number of girls lost through infanticide, sex-selection and differential survival — the difference in mortality rates between male and female children. More females die than males in early childhood.

“What this says is that even if you didn’t have all those things, you have fertility stopping rules, where people say, ‘if I have a (male) child we stop… and if we don’t we continue’,” Subramanian said.

The report, which aims to present solutions addressing inequalities across society, states that the “intrinsic values of gender equality are (incontestable).”

It points to “growing evidence that there can also be significant gains in economic growth if women acquire greater personal agency, assume political power and attain public status, and participate equally in the labor force.”

In terms of countering gender imbalance it points to a 2015 initiative which roughly translates as “Save the Daughter, Educate the Daughter” as a positive step that the government has taken to redress the imbalance.

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