Magazine article The Wilson Quarterly

Boys Rule: Earth Needs Women

Magazine article The Wilson Quarterly

Boys Rule: Earth Needs Women

Article excerpt

Are girls vanishing? In India, the 2011 census found about 7.1 million fewer girls than boys below age six. The cause, Prabhat Jha and eight coauthors write in The Lancet (June 4), is a level of sex-selective abortion that's rising at a "remarkable" rate.

The researchers note that the boy-girl ratio for firstborn children in India is about normal. (Generally, around 105 boys are born for every 100 girls. Males die younger, so the sexes even out.) But when the firstborn child is a girl, the second-born is far more likely to be a boy, particularly among well-off and well-educated parents--those with the knowledge and wherewithal to get ultrasound tests, which can determine fetal sex, and abortions.

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India isn't unique, Mara Hvistendahl reports in Unnatural Selection: Choosing Boys Over Girls, and the Consequences of a Worm Full of Men (PublicAffairs). The planet faces a growing shortage of girls. In China, one town has 176 boys for every 100 girls under age four. Demographer Christophe Guilmoto estimates that sex-selective abortion has brought about a cumulative shortage of 163 million females across Asia--more than the total female population of the United States. Girls are disappearing from the Caucasus and the Balkans, too. …

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