Intended for healthcare professionals


Ratio of males to females in China

BMJ 2009; 338 doi: (Published 09 April 2009) Cite this as: BMJ 2009;338:b483
  1. Tao Liu, associate professor,
  2. Xing-yi Zhang, professor of thoracic surgery, vice president
  1. 1The Second Teaching Hospital, Jilin University, Changchun 130041, PR China

    Is still high, but only partly because of the one child policy

    China’s one child policy is one of the most controversial social policies ever implemented. The policy reduced the fertility rate and has helped raise living standards for most people in China, but it has been heavily criticised for violating human rights and having many negative social consequences, one of which is an excess number of male births.1

    In the linked study (doi:10.1136/bmj.b1211), Zhu and colleagues assess trends and geographical patterns in the sex ratio at birth and in people under 20 years of age in China, in addition to the influence of sex selective abortion and the one child policy.2 They find that in 2005 China had more than 32 million excess males under the age of 20, and over 1.1 million excess male births. The authors present a discouraging picture of very high and worsening male to female ratios in the reproductive age group in China for the next two decades.

    By showing that sex ratios for different age groups and places of residence vary with how …

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