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Girls 20% Short in China

For most societies over long periods of time, the natural ratio of male to female births has shown a slight edge to more male than female babies (about 105 male to 100 female). No one really knows why but it could be because girls live longer and are less accident prone, so nature anticipates this. However in China right now, the ratio of boys and girls starting kindergarten is about 120 boys per 100 girls! (See graph in our new Miscellaneous Charts section in the Research Centre) This is revealed in a fascinating paper by Judith Banister, "Shortage of Girls in China Today", in this month's Journal of Population Research from the Australian Population Association (www.austpop.org).

There are a number of factors contributing to this phenomena:

* China's one child policy has concentrated parental attention on the sex of "the" child.

* Poverty is assisted by the productive power of more male resources within a family than female. This has been an impact for a thousand years or more in China (and other less developed countries) and may be the reason for the higher losses of girls in Han Chinese provinces.

* Technology has provided the means for sex selective abortions so that nowadays the loss of girl children happens before birth rather than after.

* Loss of girl children can also occur shortly after birth through abandonment, neglect or maltreatment.

There is now a big improvement occurring in relative child mortality of girls after age four. The PRC government has also been pursuing policies for some years to raise the status of girls and women - but in a country the size of China it's like turning the Queen Mary. Like the baby boomer bubble moving through our demographic, this is likely to be a prominent feature of future sex age group differences in China. Further dimensions of the future are provided in the book "Bare Branches" (See FinDem Resources)

Posted Saturday, 29 May 2004

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