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Recent Trends in Sex Ratios at Birth in China

Terence H. Hull
Population and Development Review
Vol. 16, No. 1 (Mar., 1990), pp. 63-83
Published by: Population Council
DOI: 10.2307/1972529
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1972529
Page Count: 21
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Recent Trends in Sex Ratios at Birth in China
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Abstract

In recent years the sex ratios of births derived from major national surveys of China have been rising, reaching 111 males per 100 females in 1986-87. Compared with the normal level of approximately 106, this implies that annually over half a million female infants are missing, or just over 2 percent of all births. There are three possible explanations for these findings. The first is infanticide, the traditional method of disposing of unwanted births in feudal China and common in many premodern societies. Second, the difference could be the result of abortions carried out after parents gained access to technologies to determine the gender of the fetus. The third explanation is that the finding is the result of faulty statistical reporting: the missing female infants could have been safely born, and still living at home, but are now concealed by parents attempting to circumvent the national "one-child" family planning policy in their quest for a son. All three explanations imply important challenges to the health, safety, and welfare of girls and women in China.

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