Missing Girls

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Got back from China yesterday, and one thing my colleagues and I noticed was the (completely anecdotal) vast majority of the children anywhere we looked were male.   We were told that the Chinese governmnet is considering modifying its   “one child” policy such that couples who give birth to and are willing to raise   female babies might be given the opportunity to have a second child without penalty, generally to try again for a boy.   According to the NYT “a bias in favor of male offspring has left China with 32 million more boys under the age of 20 than girls.” The article reports:

… Chinese government planners have long known that the urge of couples to have sons was skewing the gender balance of the population. But the study, by two Chinese university professors and a London researcher, provides some of the first hard data on the extent of the disparity and the factors contributing to it.

In 2005 , they found, births of boys in China exceeded births of girls by more than 1.1 million. There were 120 boys born for every 100 girls.

This disparity seems to surpass that of any other country, they said : a finding, they wrote, that was perhaps unsurprising in light of China’s one-child policy.

They attributed the imbalance almost entirely to couples’ decisions to abort female fetuses.

The trend toward more male than female children intensified steadily after 1986, they said, as ultrasound tests and abortion became more available.”Sex-selective abortion accounts for almost all the excess males,”the paper said.

The researchers, who analyzed data from a 2005 census, said the disparity was widest among children ages 1 to 4, a sign that the greatest imbalances among the adult population lie ahead. They also found more distortion in provinces that allow rural couples a second child if the first is a girl, or in cases of hardship.

Those couples were determined to ensure they had at least one son, the researchers noted. Among children born second, there were 143 boys for 100 girls, the data showed. …

It might be nice to think that because as girls grow   scare, they might be valued more. But other evidence suggests “excess demand” will be met with prostitution and other forms of human trafficking. I will write more about this and many other things as the jet lag lifts and I catch up on oh so many things that accumulated while I was away. NB: I couldn’t access the blog from many locations in China, sorry if I didn’t post everything sent my way.

–Ann Bartow

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One Response to Missing Girls

  1. bob coley jr says:

    Welcome back Ann! The disparity of gender numbers can only be a good thing if the social desires that caused it in the first place change. The “supply”/ “demand” argument is truly scary if the “who is demanding to be satisfied” is the same old group. In many ways only the value of the “supply” changes with numbers. And of course, that value is in the context of what is being demanded of whom.

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