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Excess Female Mortality and the Balance of the Sexes in the Population: An Estimate of the Number of "Missing Females"

Ansley J. Coale
Population and Development Review
Vol. 17, No. 3 (Sep., 1991), pp. 517-523
Published by: Population Council
DOI: 10.2307/1971953
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1971953
Page Count: 7
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Excess Female Mortality and the Balance of the Sexes in the Population: An Estimate of the Number of
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Abstract

The ratio of males to females in a population is determined by the ratio of male to female births, the ratio of male to female net migrants, and the ratio of male to female deaths. In almost all populations the ratio of male to female births is about 1.06; when health care and nutrition for both sexes are about the same, this male majority at birth is erased by male mortality at every age higher than female. In the past (and in some instances also at present) in China, South Asia, and West Asia, the greater female resistance to death is offset by poorer nutrition and inferior health care, resulting in an elevated masculinity of the population. In this note the ratio of males to females that would have been produced in the absence of traditionally based differential treatment of the sexes is estimated for selected populations. The total number of females missing because of inferior care is about 60 million.

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