China's Sex Ratio at Birth: Reported Ratios, Actual Ratios, and Expected Trends

Daniel M. Goodkind, U.S. Census Bureau
Loraine A. West, U.S. Census Bureau

The sex ratio at birth (SRB) reported in China’s 2000 census (short form) was nearly 117 males per 100 females. The distortion above the worldwide norm of 103-106 is due primarily to prenatal sex selection against daughters. Yet China’s elevated SRB is also due in part to relative underreporting of daughters. For instance, although the reported SRB in the 1990 census was 111, the true SRB was 108 according to hospital surveys as well as backdated child sex ratios from the 1995 census sample, the 2000 census, and new school enrollment statistics around 1996-97. The 3 per 100 gap between reported and true SRBs has evidently persisted since 1990, so we estimate China’s true SRB in 2000 was about 114. Moreover, based on an analysis of demographic and policy changes in China, as well as international comparisons, we expect China’s SRB to fall.

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Presented in Poster Session 4