Research published in the BMJ medical journal on Tuesday estimated 4.7 million fewer girls will be born worldwide in the next ten years due to sex selection practices, including abortion.
The study warned this imbalance could increase social unrest and violence.
AFP summarized the research in a report Tuesday that noted “sex-selective abortions have been on the rise for the past 40 years in countries throughout southeast Europe along with south and east Asia, with as-yet undetermined demographic impacts.”
To model those demographic impacts, the researchers looked at countries with a strong “cultural preference for male offspring” and factored in “observed trends and decreased fertility.” The resulting statistical projection indicated a shortfall of 4.7 million girls by 2030, and more remarkably, a potential shortage of 22 million girls by 2100.
“Fewer-than-expected females in a population could result in elevated levels of anti-social behavior and violence, and may ultimately affect long-term stability and social sustainable development,” the authors noted.
“The preference for sons over daughters may be so pronounced in some societies that couples will go to great lengths to avoid giving birth to a girl or will fail to care for the health and well-being of a daughter they already have in favor of their son,” the United Nations Population Fund warned in a 2020 report.
“In some parts of the world, the birth of a boy is a cause for celebration,” the U.N. report said. “The birth of a girl, however, can be a reason for disappointment. She may be seen as a burden, a liability, an impediment to a family’s fortune.”
“From a human rights perspective, gender-biased sex selection is a harmful practice because it translates a preference for boys over girls into a deliberate prevention of female births. Unambiguously linked to discriminatory norms and behaviors, it is a malignant outcome of gender inequality,” the report stated.
Medical News Today noted Wednesday that previous studies found some 45 million female births “missing” due to “prenatal sex selection” between 1970 and 2017. About 95 percent of the missing births were from India or China.
China’s brutally enforced “One-Child” population control policies have long been denounced by international researchers as a major driver of sex selection practices, producing an imbalance of some 32 million males to females before the policies were loosened beginning in 2013.
Chinese families determined to use their “one-child” permission to have a boy resorted to sex selection abortions and outright infanticide.
Chinese health authorities acknowledged in 2015 their population has “the most serious and prolonged” gender imbalance in the world and said they feared it would cause the same growth of antisocial behavior forecast by the BMJ paper Tuesday. The Chinese have a term for young men who cannot find brides due to the massive gender imbalance: guang guan, or “broken branches.”
Sex selection abortions are not limited to cultures with a longstanding overt bias in favor of male children. The practice has been monitored and criticized in the U.S., U.K., and Europe as well. Abortion rights activists claim concerns about sex selection abortion are insincere and legal measures intended to reduce the practice are disingenuous efforts to intimidate women out of seeking abortions.