Girl births gaining ground on boys'

By Chen Tian Source:Global Times Published: 2013-3-6 0:43:01

China's sex at birth ratio dropped to 117.7 boys for every 100 girls in 2012, sustaining four consecutive years of decline, the People's Daily reported on Tuesday citing figures from the National Population and Family Planning Commission (NPFPC).

The sex at birth ratio in China started climbing from 108.47 boys to 100 girls in 1982, and hit a peak of 121.2 in 2004. Its continuous decline since 2009 proves that NPFPC's measures to curb an imbalanced girl-boy brith ratio are working.

A "desired" ratio is 103 to 107 boys to 100 girls at birth. The difference would become negligible as the babies grow to marriage age because males have a higher mortality rate than females, according to People's Daily.

"A drop in the ratio could, to a certain extent, mitigate problems related to the marketplace of marriage," Li Jianmin, deputy director of a NPFPC-managed association of demography and population experts from around the nation, told the Global Times. "Men may find it easier to get a wife in the future."

Doctors are not allowed to tell parents the sex of their unborn baby unless medically necessary and expectant mothers cannot terminate their pregnancy to avoid giving birth to a girl. These two measures have helped the dip in the gender imbalance, Lu Jiehua, professor of social demography at Peking University, told the Global Times.

Lu cautioned, however, that it is too early for much optimism as the ratio has not dramatically declined, and the NPFPC's figures might be inaccurate because of concealed births in rural areas.

Statistics from the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Education and other agencies should be combined for a more accurate gauge of how much the ratio has actually dropped, Lu said.

Lu said government bodies must significantly reduce sex discrimination in education and the workplace to ensure the ratio continues to decline and prevent a bounce-back.

"Policymakers are not making much of an effort to ease gender discrimination," Lu said. "Gender equity should be considered in all policymaking processes."

If severe sex discrimination remains, he said, the high girl-boy ratio will return.

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