NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Sex Selection Abortions in Asia

May 10, 2001

Female fetuses are being aborted at startling rates in China and across broad swaths of India, new census data show. The spread of ultrasound technology in these societies, with their strong preferences for sons, says Celia W. Dugger of the New York Times, has made it easy to find out the sex of a child before birth and to abort unwanted daughters.

  • Normally, women around the world give birth to 105 or 106 boys for every 100 girls.
  • But according to China's latest census, there were 117 boys born for every 100 girls in 2000, up from 114 boys per 100 girls in 1990.
  • A similar trend in South Korea seems to have peaked in 1990 at 117 boys per 100 girls and declined to 110 boys per 100 girls by 1999.

And in India, the early 2001 census data show that the ratio of girls to boys who are newborns to age 6, fell from 945 girls per 1,000 boys a decade ago to 927 girls per 1,000 boys this year.

Between abortion and neglect, demographers estimate there are 30 million to 50 million fewer girls alive in Asia today than would otherwise have been the case.

Source: Celia W. Dugger, "Modern Asia's Anomaly: The Girls Who Don't Get Born," New York Times, May 6, 2001.


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