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Deficit of Female Births in China, Europe, USA and India: 1950-1955 to 2095-2100 (in 1000)

Source: United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division (2011): World Population Prospects, the 2010 Revision. New York. See: www.unpopulation.org
Notes: Due to limitation of space country names were abbreviated. China stands for People's Republic of China, USA stands for United States of America, Europe (48) see Glossary

This chart illustrates the strong "male preference" in in China and India. It depicts the deficit of female births as compared to male births (number of female births minus number of male births during five-year periods). In the five-year period of 2000-2005 China had roughly 8.2 million female births less than male births. This deficit is much larger than can be explained by natural factors. It should be noted that the figure above displays the absolute deficit in the number of female births, not the sex ratio at birth.

The large excess of male over female birth in China can be explained by two factors: Sex-selective abortion and underreporting of female births. Most demographers believe that sex-selective abortions primarily account for the large deficit of female births in China, but under-reporting of female births certainly occurs. If one follows the birth cohorts for a few years, girls suddenly "appear" in the demographic statistics at higher age groups. Among school children, the number of females and males is much more balanced in China than among the newborn. This can only be explained by underreporting of female births. However, it is highly likely that selective abortion plays a major role in the large deficit of female births. With its strict "One-child only" family planning policy parents in China often have used abortion as a family planning measure if the first expected child was a girl - particularly since the early 1980s. This "darker side" of China's successful family planning policy is often ignored by family planning advocates.

The deficit of female births in China will haunt the society in coming decades, when hundred-thousands of young men will have little chance of marriage. China is expecting, and already experiencing, a massive "marriage squeeze", where millions of young men have no chance of finding a bride to start a family. Demographers and social scientists expect that the age difference between brides and grooms will grow. It is also likely that Chinese men will try to find non-Chinese brides in other countries.

According to the United Nations World Population Prospects, sex ratios at birth will become more balanced in the future, as China relaxes its strict "one child" policy. There are already regulations in place that allow parents who have both been single children to have two children themselves. Most demographers expect that China will have to further relax its "one child" policy, as the country will start to grapple with the problems of population ageing in the near future. These trends are likely to reduce the pressure towards male preference, so that the number of male and female births will likely to become more balanced in the future.

Literature:

Anderson, Barbara A. / Silver, Brian D. (1995): Ethnic differences in fertility and sex ratios at birth in China: Evidence from Xinjiang. In: Population Studies, Vol. 49, No. 2, 211-226

Cai, Yong / Lavely, William (2003): China's missing girls: Numerical estimates and effects on population growth. In: China Review, Vol. 3, No. 2, 13-29

Chu, Junhong (2001): Prenatal sex determination and sex-selective abortion in rural central China. In: Population and Development Review, Vol. 27, No. 2, 259-282

Coale, Ansley J. (1991): Excess female mortality and the balance of the sexes in the population: An estimate of the number of "missing females". In: Population and Development Review, Vol. 17, No. 3, 517-523

Coale, Ansley J. / Banister, Judith (1994): Five decades of missing females in China. In: Demography, Vol. 31, No. 3, 459-486

Das Gupta, Monica (2005): Explaining Asia's "missing women": A new look at the data. In: Population and Development Review, Vol. 31, No. 3, 529-535

Das Gupta, Monica / Lee, Shuzhuo (1997): Gender bias and the "marriage squeeze" in China, South Korea and India, 1920-1990: The effects of war, famine, and fertility decline. Cambridge, MA (Center for Population and Development Studies, Harvard University), Working Paper Series, No. 97.05

Eberstadt, Nicholas (2004): Power and population in Asia. In: Policy Review, No. 123, February 2004

Festini, F. / Taccetti, G. / Repetto, T. / Cioni, M. L. / de Martino, M. (2003): Sex ratio at birth among Chinese babies born in Italy is lower than in China. In: Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, Vol. 57, 967-968

Goodkind, Daniel M. (2004): China's missing children: The 2000 census underreporting surprise. In: Population Studies, Vol. 58, No. 3, 281-295

Gu, Baochang / Roy, Krishna (1995): Sex ratio at birth in China, with reference to other areas in East Asia: What we know. In: Asia-Pacific Population Journal, Vol. 10, No. 3, 17-42

Mundigo, Axel I. (1999): Population and abortion policies in China: their impact on minority nationalities. In: Human Evolution, Vol. 14, No. 3, 207-230

Poston, Dudley L. (2002): Son preference and fertility in China. In: Journal of Biosocial Science, Vol. 34, No. 3, 333-347

Ren, Steve (1995): Sex Differences in Infant and Child Mortality in Three Provinces in China. In: Social Sciences and Medicine, Vol. 40, No. 9, 1259-1269

White, Tyrene (2000): Domination, Resistance, and Accommodation in China's One Child Campaign. In: Perry, Elizabeth J. / Selden, Mark (Eds.): Chinese Society: Change, Conflict, and Resistance. New York, NY (Routledge)

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china-profile.com - 18 April 2012