wei36_GOH CHAI HINAFP via Getty Images_sex ratio GOH CHAI HIN/AFP via Getty Images

Sex and the Chinese Economy

As the Chinese government has started to worry about the country’s low population growth, it has progressively relaxed its family-planning policy. Policymakers should now go further, and provide a significant financial reward to parents of baby girls.

NEW YORK – China’s recently released population census confirms the persistence of the country’s alarming excess of males relative to the global norm. This numerical imbalance from birth onward has several significant economic implications – and not only for China.

Because women live longer than men on average, most countries’ populations have more females than males. In the United States, for example, there were 96 males per 100 females in 2020. China, by contrast, has 105 males for every 100 females, according to the latest census. Chinese women live about three years longer than Chinese men on average, so the “excess males” are entirely the result of an unusually high ratio of boys to girls at birth.

The sex ratio at birth is normally around 106 boys per 100 girls. Because boys and young men have a slightly higher mortality rate, and because husbands tend to be somewhat older than wives, such a ratio at birth is nature’s way of ensuring a roughly 1:1 ratio by the time they reach reproductive age.

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