India's Worsening Gender Imbalance

Photo: iStockphoto

We’ve written a lot about gender on this blog, and the preference for boys over girls has been a hallmark of Asian societies for centuries. This has led to large gender imbalances across much of Asia, particularly in China and India. In China, there are 119 boys born for every 100 girls. According to India’s recently completed census, among children six and under, there are only 914 girls counted for every 1,000 boys.

Natural sex rates lead to a more even sex ratio at birth, suggesting gendercide, i.e. that female fetuses are being aborted. China’s one-child policy has also exacerbated the problem since it was implemented in 1980. But while the gender imbalance has stabilized in China, it’s widening in India, and is at its worst since record-keeping began in 1947.

Harvard economist and Nobel laureate Amartya Sen was one of the first to bring serious attention to this issue in the early 1990s. Today, researchers are worried that large swaths of unmarried men from China’s most rural provinces, where gender imbalances are the greatest, will be a heavy burden on social security as they age. There is also concern that gender imbalance drives prostitution and human trafficking.

Despite a ban on ultra-sounds for the sole purpose of determining a fetus’s sex, in India the problem is spreading, and it is now the richest provinces that have the largest imbalances. As The Economist points out: “If sex ratios stay the same, 600,000 missing girls this year will become, in 18 years’ time, over 10m missing future brides.”




In a country that is developing and has tremendous wealth in terms of intellect and culture it is pity-full to know that some people do not value the girl as much as a boy. While the country has made some effort to prevent such discrimination there should be more effort made to educate the masses (especially in rural India) on the importance of a girl both for the present and future of their family and the country.
The myth that a boy is the only one who can support a family and will always be yours should be completely eradicated from their minds.
Girls may get married but that does not mean they are incapable of supporting themselves and their families.
Educating them is crucial to stop this gender imbalance.


Natural gender rates do show about 105 boys for every 100 girls at birth. With higher mortality, men equal women during procreation years.


Hi stupid! Did you not notice that there is an excess of young men, who are in there prime reproduction years, as opposed to a dearth of women who are in their prime reproductive years? No, it does no "balance out" and you are not contributing anything of value to a discussion that concerns ethics. Please go get treatment for your severe autism and stay out of any sort of social discussion that requires empathy.


To make comparisons easier:

914 girls born for every 1000 boys = 109 boys born for every 100 girls


Thank you.

Miley Cyrax

If families rather have sons then daughters, then thjat's their prerogative. If it came out that in America, more girls than boys were being born because families prefer daughters for whatever reasons, feminists would be joyfully cheerleading this development. Instead, it's "patriarchy this, misogyny that" as to what's going on in Asia. In any case, the more sons being born, the better it is for the parents of daughters, as the daughters can now command a higher mating value due to lack of supply of girls and greater supply of boys.


This has happened in China. Check out the cost of a wedding in Beijing, Shanghai, or Hangzhou. It's astounding, partly because the groom or his family is expected to provide a house and car before getting married. Women are getting pickier and pickier because they can and men are willing to pay what it takes to win them.

David Leppik

It will be interesting to see how this plays out. Perhaps it will trigger greater social equality, as wealthy young men look to the lower classes for brides. Ultimately, the people who pay the price may be the young men at the bottom of the social ladder.


Are there similar reliable statistics for the poorer Asian countries that are primarily Muslim?

In those societies, women are truly downtrodden. But are they deliberately reduced in number or are the number of women maintained to provide assistance to the dominant men?


Considering the overpopulation problems in the world in general, and India and China in particular, reducing the proportion of women is one of the most efficient methods of reducing the birth rate. I think it's a good idea. I hope they keep it up.


Are you serious? You propose the wholesale aborting of female fetuses as birth control for the masses?


Come on guys, why compare 119 to 100 with 1000 to 914, then move on to say that natural sex rates lead to a more even ratio without specifying what it is?

From the CIA fact book (here's hoping it's reliable):
at birth: 1.07 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.07 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.02 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.79 male(s)/female
total population: 1.01 male(s)/female (2011 est.)

at birth: 1.133 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.17 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.06 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.93 male(s)/female
total population: 1.06 male(s)/female (2011 est.)

at birth: 1.12 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.13 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.07 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.91 male(s)/female
total population: 1.08 male(s)/female (2011 est.)


In a sensible world, this would be solved quite simply by polyandry.

And of course, we're missing a couple of important pieces of information: what percentage of men and women are gay? Casual observation suggests that men are more likely to be gay than women, so maybe this just evens the heterosexual male/female ratio?

Mike B

Anything that India can do to get its population growth under control is a good thing and the growing imbalance could also promote the acceptance of Male/Male relationships.

Matthew R.

"Anything?" Even genocide? Nuclear war?


If it came out in the US that male fetuses were being aborted en masse, people would be appalled. How old are you? You sound as if you have little life experience and you certainly don't pay attention to media or to the world around you. No, feminists wouldn't cheer the mass abortion of male babies simply for being male. Are you completely lacking in education?