Journal of Population Research

, Volume 21, Issue 1, pp 19–45 | Cite as

Shortage of girls in China today

Article

Abstract

China has the most severe shortage of girls compared to boys of any country in the world today, as documented by China's surveys and censuses up to 2000. This article evaluates data on sex ratios in China since before the founding of the People's Republic, and shows that the relative dearth of girls has become more extreme during the last two decades, and that the problem is real and not merely due to undercounting of girls. Daughters are lost primarily through sex-selective abortion, secondly through excess female infant mortality, and thirdly through neglect or mistreatment of girls up to age three, in cities as well as rural areas. Until recently, the dearth of girls was confined to second or higher-order births, but now couples in some provinces are using sex-selective abortions for first births. Maps show the geographical concentration of life-threatening discrimination against girls and its spread over time. Son preference, low fertility and technology combine to cause the loss of daughters in China today and compulsory family planning and the one-child policy exacerbate the problem. The discussion includes what the People's Republic of China has done to ameliorate life-threatening discrimination against girls and what further steps might be taken to improve the situation.

Keywords

sex ratio sex preselection sex preference sex discrimination sex differentials China infanticide differential mortality age-sex distribution excess mortality 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Adlakha, Arjun and Judith Banister. 1995. Demographic perspectives on China and India.Journal of biosocial Science 27(2): 163–178.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Banister, Judith. 1987.China's Changing Population. Stanford CA: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Banister, Judith. 1992. China: recent mortality levels and trends. Paper presented at Annual Meeting of the Population Association of America, Denver, May.Google Scholar
  4. Banister, Judith. 1995–1996. Son preference in Asia—Report of a symposium. Paper presented at Annual Meeting of the Population Association of America San Francisco, April 1995; summarized inEurasia Bulletin (U.S. Bureau of the Census), Spring 1996: 2–8.Google Scholar
  5. Banister, Judith and Kenneth Hill. 2004. Mortality in China 1964–2000.Population Studies 58(1): 55–75.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Barclay, G.W., A. Coale, A.J. Stoto and T.J. Trussell. 1976. A reassessment of the demography of traditional rural China.Population Index 42: 606–635.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Beech, Hannah. 2003. The sky is falling.Time Magazine 28 July: 22–27.Google Scholar
  8. Burgess, Robin and Juzhong Zhuang. 2001. Modernization and son preference. http://www.econ.Ise.ac.uk/~rburgess/wp/sonall.pdf, (accessed 18 September 2003).Google Scholar
  9. Chen, Wei, 2003. Son preference, fertility and induced abortion in China. Paper presented at Workshop on Population Changes in China at the Beginning of the 21st Century, Australian National University, Canberra, December.Google Scholar
  10. China National Bureau of Statistics (NBS). Annual.China Population Statistics Yearbook. Beijing: China Statistics Press.Google Scholar
  11. China National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).China's Censuses. Beijing: Population Census Office under the State Council and Department of Population Statistics, National Bureau of Statistics.Google Scholar
  12. China National Bureau of Statistics (NBS). 1985.The 1982 Census of China (Major, Figures). Hong Kong: Economic Information and Agency.Google Scholar
  13. China National Bureau of Statistics (NBS). 1993.Tabulation on the 1990 Population Census of the People's Republic of China (4 volumes). Beijing: China Statistics Press.Google Scholar
  14. China National Bureau of Statistics (NBS). 1997.Data from China's National 1% Sample Survey. Beijing: China Statistics Press.Google Scholar
  15. China National Bureau of Statistics (NBS). 2002.Tabulation on the 2000 Population Census of the People's Republic of China (3 volumes). Beijing: China Statistics Press.Google Scholar
  16. China National Working Committee on Children and Women. 2001.Report of the People's Republic of China on the Development of Children in the 1990s—National Report on the Follow-up to the World Summit for Children. Beijing.Google Scholar
  17. Choe, Minja K., Hongsheng Hao and Feng Wang. 1995. Effects of gender, birth order, and other correlates on childhood mortality in China.Social Biology 42(1–2): 50–64.Google Scholar
  18. Coale, Ansley J. 1991. Excess female mortality and the balance of the sexes in the population: an estimation of the number of missing females.Population and Development Review 17(3): 517–523.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Coale, Ansley J. and Judith Banister. 1994. Five decades of missing females in China.Demography 31(3): 459–479.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Coale, Ansley J. and Paul Demeny. 1966.Regional Model Life Tables and Stable Populations. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  21. Croll, Elisabeth. 2000.Endangered Daughters: Discrimination and Development in Asia. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  22. Croll, Elisabeth. 2002. Fertility decline, family size and female discrimination: a study of reproductive management in East and South Asia.Asia-Pacific Population Journal 17(2): 11–38.Google Scholar
  23. Das Gupta, Monica and P.N. Mari Bhat. 1997. Fertility decline and increased manifestation of sex bias in India.Population Studies 51(3): 307–316.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Das Gupta, Monica and Shuzhuo Li. 1999. Gender bias and marriage squeeze in China, South Korea and India 1920–1990: effects of war, famine and fertility decline.Development and Change 30(3): 619–652.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Das Gupta, Monica, Sunhwa Lee, Patricia Uberoi, Danning Wang, Lihong Wang and Xiaodan Zhang. 2004. State policies and women's agency in China, the Republic of Korea and India 1950–2000: lessons from contrasting experiences. Pp. 234–259 in Vijayendra Rao and Michael Walton (eds),Culture and Public Action: A Cross-Disciplinary Dialogue on Development Policy. Stanford CA: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  26. Economist (The). 1998. 6.3 brides for seven brothers. 19 December: 38–42.Google Scholar
  27. Entwisle, Barbara, Gail E. Henderson, Susan E. Short, Jill Bouma and Zhai Fengying. 1995. Gender and family businesses in rural China.American Sociological Review 60(1): 36–57.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Gao, Ling. 1993. An analysis of the sex ratio at birth of the Chinese population [in Chinese].Renkou yanjiu [Population Research] 17(1): 1–6.Google Scholar
  29. Genesis of Eden Diversity Encyclopedia. 2002. Korea in trouble with gender imbalance. http:// www.dhushara.com/book/orsin/rites/korea.htm (accessed 13 November 2002).Google Scholar
  30. Goodkind, Daniel. 1999a. Should prenatal sex selection be restricted? Ethical questions and their implications for research and policy.Population Studies 53(1): 49–61.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Goodkind, Daniel. 1999b. Do parents prefer sons in North Korea?Studies in Family Planning 30(3): 212–218.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Greenhalgh, Susan and J.L. Li. 1995. Engendering reproductive policy and practice in peasant China—for a feminist demography of reproduction.Signs 20: 601–641.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Gu, Baochang and Yongping Li. 1994. Sex ratio at birth and son preference in China. Paper presented at UNFPA Symposium on Issues Related to Sex Preference for Children in the Rapidly Changing Demographic Dynamics in Asia, Seoul, November.Google Scholar
  34. Gu, Baochang and Krishna Roy. 1995. Sex ratio at birth in China, with reference to other areas in East Asia: what we know.Asia-Pacific Population Journal 10(3): 17–42.Google Scholar
  35. Guo, Zhigang. 2000. Fertility and parity progression in the 1990s in China. Paper presented at Annual Meeting of the Population Association of America, Los Angeles, March.Google Scholar
  36. Han, S. and Shuzhuo Li. 1999. A study of the influences of individual and household factors on sex differences in child survival in China [in Chinese].Renkou yu jingji [Journal of Population and Economics], 1999(2): 28–34.Google Scholar
  37. Hull, Terence H. 1990. Recent trends in sex ratios at birth in China.Population and Development Review 16(1): 63–83.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Japan IPSS. 2002. Japan National Institute of Population and Social Security Research. Table on births in Japan by sex, 1872–2000. http://www1.ipss.go.jp (accessed 24 December 2002).Google Scholar
  39. Johansson, Sten. 1984. A Swedish perspective on sex ratios and other intriguing aspects of China's demography. Pp. 410–434 in China National Bureau of Statistics (ed.),A Census of One Billion People; Papers for International Seminar on China's 1982 Population Census. Beijing: Population Census Office under the State Council, and Department of Population Statistics of the State Statistical Bureau.Google Scholar
  40. Johansson, Sten and Arne Arvidsson. 1994. Problems in counting the youngest cohorts in China's censuses and surveys. Pp. 56–73 in China National Bureau of Statistics (ed.),1990 Population Census of China—Proceedings of International Seminar. Beijing: China Statistics Press.Google Scholar
  41. Johansson, Sten and Ola Nygren. 1991. The missing girls of China: a new demographic account.Population and Development Review 17(1): 35–51.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Johnson, Kay. 1996. The politics of the revival of infant abandonment in China, with special reference to Hunan.Population and Development Review 20: 77–98.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Kim, Doo-Sub. 2003. Changing trends and regional differences in sex ratio at birth in Korea: revisited and revised. Paper presented at Seminar on Gender Issues at Early Stages of Life in South and East Asia, Pondicherry, India, November.Google Scholar
  44. Korea National Statistical Office (KNSO). 2002.2002 Population and Housing Census Report. Seoul.Google Scholar
  45. Lavely, William. 1997. Unintended consequences of China's birth planning policy. Paper presented at Conference on Unintended Social Consequences of Chinese Economic Reform, Harvard, Cambridge MA.Google Scholar
  46. Lavely, William and Cai Yong. 2003. Spatial variation of juvenile sex ratios in the 2000 census of China. Paper presented at Workshop on Population Changes in China at the Beginning of the 21st Century, Australian National University, Canberra, December.Google Scholar
  47. Lee, James Z. and Feng Wang. 1999.One Quarter of Humanity; Malthusian Mythology and Chinese Realities, 1700–2000. Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  48. Li, Shuzhuo and Marcus W. Feldman. 1996. Sex differentials in infant and child mortality in China: levels, trends, and variations.Renkou Kexue [Chinese Journal of Population Science] 8(3): 249–267.Google Scholar
  49. Li, Shuzhuo, Chuzhu Zhu and Marcus W. Feldman. 2004. Gender differences in child survival in contemporary rural China: a county study, first published at http://www.ced. uab.es/PDFs/PapersPDF/Text178.pdf (accessed 18 September 2003); then inJournal of Biosocial Science 36(1): 83–109.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Li, Yongping. 1994. Sex ratios of infants and relations with some socioeconomic variables: results of China's 1990 census and implications. Pp. 348–365 in China National Bureau of Statistics (ed.),1990 Population Census of China—Proceedings of International Seminar. Beijing: China Statistics Press.Google Scholar
  51. M2 Presswire. 1999. UN: China still confronted by extensive female illiteracy, rural poverty, rising domestic violence, 2 February: 1–12. Copyright M2 Communications Ltd. http:// www.global.umi.com/pqdweb?TS=9877591 (accessed 20 April 2001).Google Scholar
  52. MacLeod, Lijia. 1998. Plight of the wives for sale.South China Morning Post (Hong Kong) 23 May Review section: 1, 3.Google Scholar
  53. Mauricio, Kelli. 2002. Preventing daughter discrimination in China: human rights and social change. Unpublished manuscript.Google Scholar
  54. Mosley, W. Henry and Lincoln C. Chen. 1984. An analytic framework for the study of child survival in developing countries.Population and Development Review 10 (Supplement): 25–45.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Pandey, Arvind, Minja Kim Choe, Norman Y. Luther, Damodar Sahu, and Jagdish Chand. 1998.Infant and Child Mortality in India. National Family Health Survey (NFHS) Subject Report, No. 11. Mumbai: International Institute for Population Sciences, and Honolulu: East-West Center. http://www.eastwestcenter.org accessed 18 September 2003).Google Scholar
  56. Peng, Xizhe. 1993. Recent trends in China's population and their implications. Paper presented at Seminar on Development Implications of Population Trends in Asia, Sept.–Oct., Canberra.Google Scholar
  57. Poston, Dudley L. Jr. 2001. Son preference and fertility in China. http://www.sociweb.tamu. edu/Faculty/POSTON/Postonweb/pubarticle/everything.pdf (accessed 18 September 2003).Google Scholar
  58. Poston, Dudley L. Jr., Peihang Liu, Baochang Gu and Terra McDaniel. 1997. Son preference and the sex ratio at birth in China: a provincial level analysis.Social Biology 44(1–2): 55–76.Google Scholar
  59. Poston, Dudley L. Jr., Julie Juan Wu, Michael Ming Yuan and Karen S. Glover. 2000. Patterns and variations in the sex ratio at birth in China and Taiwan. Paper presented at Annual Meeting of the North American Chinese Sociologists Association, Washington DC, August.Google Scholar
  60. Qiao, Xiaochun and Chirayath Suchindran. 2003. From sex preference of children to its reality: sex ratio at birth and its determinants in China. Poster presented at Annual Meeting of the Population Association of America, Minneapolis.Google Scholar
  61. Ren, S.X. 1995. Sex differences in infant and child mortality in three provinces in China.Social Science and Medicine 40(9): 1259–1269.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Retherford, Robert D. and T.K. Roy. 2003. Factors affecting sex-selective abortion in India.National Family Health Survey (NFHS) Bulletin (Mumbai and Honolulu) 17: 1–4 http:// www.eastwestcenter.org (accessed 18 September 2003).Google Scholar
  63. Rosenthal, Elisabeth. 2001. Stolen, sold, and wed.South China Morning Post 26 June: 13.Google Scholar
  64. Tabutin, D. and M. Willems. 1995. Excess female mortality in the developing world during the 1970s and 1980s.Population Bulletin of the United Nations 39: 45–78.Google Scholar
  65. Taiwan Province. 1946.Statistical Abstract of the Past 51 Years.Google Scholar
  66. Tan, Lin and Xizhe Peng. 2000. China's female population. Pp. 150–166 in Xizhe Peng and Zhigang Guo (eds),The Changing Population of China. Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  67. Tu, Ping. 1993. Studies on sex ratios at birth in China [in Chinese].Renkou yanjiu[Population Research] 17(1): 6–13.Google Scholar
  68. Tuljapurkar, Shripad, Nan Li and Marcus W. Feldman. 1995. High sex ratios in China's future.Science 267: 874–876.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. United Nations (UN). Annual.Demographic Yearbook. New York.Google Scholar
  70. UN Population Division. 2003.World Population Prospects, Population Database. http://www. esa.un.org/unpp/p2k0data.asp (accessed 18 September 2003).Google Scholar
  71. UN Population Division. 2004.World Population Prospects: The 2002 Revision. http://www. esa.un.org/unpp/p2k0data.asp (accessed 3 February 2004).Google Scholar
  72. US Census Bureau. 2002.International Data Base. http://www.bized.ac.uk/cgi-bin/idbsum. pl (accessed 23 August 2002).Google Scholar
  73. Wen, Xinyan. 1993. Effects of son preference and population policy on sex ratios at birth in two provinces of China.Journal of Biosocial Science 25: 110–120.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Xie, Zhenming. 2002. Three elements backing high sex ratio at birth in China [in Chinese].Renkou yanjiu [Population Research] 26(5): 14–18.Google Scholar
  75. Yang, Wen-Shan and Chen Likwang. 2003. Sex preference and determinants of child wellbeing in Taiwan. Paper presented at Seminar on Gender Issues at the Early Stage of Life in South and East Asia, Pondicherry, India, November.Google Scholar
  76. Yuan, Xin. 2003. High sex ratio at birth in China (brief review). Paper presented at Workshop on Population Changes in China at the Beginning of the 21st Century, Australian National University, Canberra, December.Google Scholar
  77. Zeng, Yi, Ping Tu, Baochang Gu, Yi Xu, Bohua Li and Yongping Li. 1993. Causes and implications of the recent increase in the reported sex ratios at birth in China.Population and Development Review 19(2): 283–302.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  78. Zhu, Chuzhu, Shuzhou Li, Changrong Qiu, Ping Hu and Anrong Jin. 1997.The Dual Effects of the Family Planning Program on Chinese Women. Xi'an: Xi'an Jiaotong University Press.Google Scholar
  79. Zuckerman, Elaine, Alf Blikberg and Menglin Cao. 2000. China country gender review. Unpublished manuscript, World Bank Washington DC.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Javelin Investments, Inc.BeijingChina

Personalised recommendations