Journal of Official Statistics, Vol.7, No.1, 1991. pp. 2543

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On Intriguing Sex Ratios Among Live Births in China in the 1980s

Millions of missing girls are implied by the high sex ratios at birth in China as reported in the three large independent fertility surveys in the 1980s. Our analysis of the 1988 2/1000 fertility survey shows that the higher than normal sex ratio for second and higher order births is related to the stringent family planning policy of China that recommends only one child and does not allow more than two for most families. The shadow of female infanticide cannot be completely dissolved but most of the “missing” girls discussed in previous literature are found by us as adopted children. Excess female infant mortality is estimated at about 45 000 per year. Methodologically we try to establish that the normal sex ratio at birth is between 105 and 106 boys per 100 girls and that circa 130 is the normal sex ratio among infant deaths.

Normal sex ratio; sex ratio among infant deaths; sex discrimination; female infanticide; family planning policy.

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