4.7 million fewer girls to be born by 2030 due to selective abortion
A research states that shortfall in the number of girls being born will lead to a surplus of young men in around a third of the global population, “with the full social and economic impacts”.
20 AUGUST 2021 · 18:10 CET
According to a research recently published in the BMJ Global Health journal, around 4.7 million girls could be missing worldwide by the end of the decade due to sex-selective abortion.
This loss could reach 22 million globally by 2100 “if all countries at risk of boosting this ratio above its natural level, including densely populated countries, such as Nigeria and Pakistan, do so”, warn the researchers.
The research points out that sex-selective abortions, “the main mechanism behind sex selection”, have been on the rise for the past 40 years “across a range of various countries from Southeast Europe to South and East Asia”.
Surplus of young men in around a third of the global population
It also underlines that the projected shortfall in the number of girls being born will lead to a surplus of young men in around a third of the global population by 2030, “with the full social and economic impacts as yet unknown”.
The authors based their projections on a comprehensive database of 3.26 billion birth records from 204 countries over the last 50 years, as well as the experience of countries facing rising sex ratios at birth before 2021.
Afterwards, focusing on 12 countries where the male-to-female ratio had increased since 1970 and another 17 where that ratio was at risk of increasing due to social or cultural trends, they simulated two scenarios.
“Scenario 1 assumed trends only for countries with strong statistical evidence of an increasing imbalance in sex ratio at birth, while scenario 2 assumed sex ratio trends for countries at risk of increasing the ratio, but with no or limited evidence of this”. explains the research.
The results showed that the sex ratio at birth is most likely to stabilize and then decline within 20 years in countries currently affected by a surplus of liveborn boys, such as China and India, which have the highest number of annual births in the world.
“Fewer than expected females in a population could result in elevated levels of antisocial behaviour and violence, and may ultimately affect long-term stability and social sustainable development”, stresses Dr Fengqing Chao, the study’s lead author from King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) of Saudi Arabia.
The United Nations defines sex-selective practices alongside child marriage and female genital mutilation as harmful practices targeted under the Millennium Development Goals.
Furthermore, researchers say that “these findings underline the need to monitor [the sex ratio at birth] in countries with son preference and to address the factors behind the persistence of gender bias in families and institutions”.
“A broader objective relates to the need to influence gender norms which lie at the core of harmful practices such as prenatal sex selection. This calls for broader legal frameworks to ensure gender equality”, they conclude.
You can read the research here.