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China now has 18 million more young men than women

by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) Nov 13, 2007
Men of marriageable age now outnumber women by 18 million in China and the sex ratio is set to become more skewed because rural families prefer boys, state press said Tuesday.

Sex-selective abortions, a direct result of the nation's one-child policy, have boosted the number of boys born in China in recent years.

By 2020 there will be 30 million more men than women aged between 20 and 45 in China, news agency Xinhua said, quoting the head of the country's National Population and Family Planning Commission.

China's birth ratio averaged 119.58 boys to every 100 girls, while in rural areas the ratio was 122.85 males to 100 females, Zhang Wiqing said at a symposium on rural population.

By comparison, the world averages between 103 and 107 male births per 100 female births, the report said.

"Rural families still have a preference for boys as agricultural production currently relies mainly on labourers," it quoted Zhang as saying.

"China will continue to crack down on illegal prenatal sex selection and will try to help people discard traditional ideas of a preference for boys."

Sociologists have long said China's skewed gender gap could eventually lead to social unrest as so many men would be without wives.

The "bachelor bomb" has long been attributed to laws that for nearly 25 years have limited urban families to one child and rural families to two, providing that the first is a girl.

Beijing this year began drafting special regulations that would specify punishments for parents and doctors who abort foetuses after discovering they are female.

Abortions motivated merely by gender are already illegal in China, but existing laws do not specify the punishment for such acts.

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