09/27/2006, 00.00
CHINA
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Gender disparity increases: 121 males born for every 100 women

The one-child policy and a deep-rooted preference for sons have exacerbated gender disparity. In 2000, 117 males were born for every 100 women.

Beijing (AsiaNews/AS) – China's controversial one-child policy is continuing to exacerbate gender disparity among newborns: in 2004, 121 males were born for every 100 females. This was confirmed by a report of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

That is up from 2000, when the ratio was 117 boys to 100 girls.

The disparity is partly down to the deep-rooted preference of Chinese parents for boys. A government policy dictating that each couple can have only one child contributes to the problem.

The Academy report describes how disparity has grown since the Chinese government instituted its "one-child policy" in 1979. In 1982, the ratio was 109 boys to 100 girls. By 1990 it had increased to 111 for every 100 girls.

The spread of pre-natal ultrasound technology to check the gender of fetuses helps couples to determine the sex of their child in advance, with the abortion of female fetuses. Although ultrasounds are theoretically prohibited by the government, except in cases of serious illness, the ban is widely ignored.

Local governments impose heavy taxes on families with two or more children, but some rural women continue to give birth until they have a boy and do not register the girls with the government. Hence the girls do not exist for the state.

The policy is creating serious problems with regard to the ageing of the population. Statistics reveal that by 2050, elderly people will account for 30% of the total of the population, posing a threat to the country's economic development.

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