While recent studies confirm parental child sex preference in less developed countries, its pattern varies. Son preference is especially prevalent in Bangladesh, China, India, and Pakistan. Sex preference in sub-Saharan Africa is a neglected area of inquiry. Completed research focuses on women’s views on men’s neglect, despite the latter’s importance as primary decision-makers.
This study identifies factors influencing contraceptive behavior among men in the Mbeya region, Tanzania, demonstrating how it is affected by their preferred family sex composition. Data used were collected from a cross-sectional survey of 600 men aged 16-50 and six focus groups conducted in the region’s rural and urban areas.
Using single statements and Coombs’ Scales, sex preference was prevalent in the study area, with sons strongly preferred to daughters. Sex preference is significantly associated with the number of existing daughters a man has, marital status, residence, and occupation.
Findings suggest programs should be initiated to challenge men’s attitudes towards one-sex family composition. Men should be educated about the advantages of small family sizes and persuaded that both children’s sexes are equally important. Such measures can help men reconsider their desired family sizes, reduce biases towards one sex, minimize marital problems, and improve women’s status. However, efforts to increase contraceptive use in Tanzania will be hampered if men maintain their preference for sons over daughters.