I was spending a pleasant portion of a Sunday morning reading a shocking article in The Economist on The Worldwide War on Baby Girls. One of the sad conclusions of that article is that the preference for male babies, which in some parts of the world is driving the ratio of male to female births to as high as 130 male births per 100 female, is actually getting worse as education gets better in some parts of the world. One of the points made is that "[i]n China, the higher a province’s literacy rate, the more skewed its sex ratio."The post's author then went on to make a graph that illustrates his point: the higher the literacy, the higher the gender imbalance in favor of males. Is Taiwan any different?
Taiwan Today offered this summary of Taiwan's gender imbalance issues yesterday:
Over the past five years, the imbalance between the sexes at birth in Taiwan ranged between 108 and 109 boys to 100 girls. The figure is far higher than the ratio of 105 to 106 suggested by the United Nations, according to the Ministry of the Interior.As this article on the similar phenomenon in Korea describes, not only does the sex ratio mean fewer women to bear babies, it also lowers the fertility rate because couples stop having children when they hit their first son. Further, as birth order increases, so does the sex ratio -- the last kid is more likely to be a son, since couples stop when they reach a boy. This leads to another weird family shape I have seen in Taiwan several times but not elsewhere: families with 4,5,6 or even 7 girls as mom and dad fail to get a son despite repeated tries.
MOI data show the sex ratio at birth in Taiwan from 1955 to 1986 was within the U.N. scale. It began rising in 1987 and in 2004 was 110.7 on average, the highest in the ROC’s history and topping countries around the world.
“This figure was even higher than that in China, which has a one-child policy,” said Ho Bih-jen, secretary-general of the National Alliance of Taiwan Women’s Associations, March 5. “The proportion dropped in 2008, but was still the third-highest in the world.”
According to the MOI, in 2004, the sex ratio at birth for first child was 108.7; for second, 109.4; for third, 122.6; and for the fourth, 122.8.
“But in recent years, the South Korean government has forbidden obstetricians from revealing a baby’s sex before it is born. Today, the country is no longer in the top-three list,” she said. “Parents in Taiwan still tend to give up having a baby when they learned of the fetuses’ sex.”
Ho said if Taiwan’s sex ratio remains on track, in 10 years there will be 200,000 fewer girls than boys. “This grave imbalance would create serious social problems such as sharp decline in birth numbers.”
One has to wonder about the other social effects. If girls are more likely to be raised in families where there are more kids and they get proportionally less attention, what are the results on things like self-esteem, competitiveness, negotiating skills, or independence? If boys are more likely to be raised in families where they are only children, or the youngest child, what are the likely effects?
- Polls: Party allegiance of voters, and New Taipei City mayor elections. It looks like Tsai Ing-wen, the Chairman of the DPP, is the only competitive candidate. But DPP regs say the Chairman cannot hold public office while Chair.
- Exports rise for fourth straight month. Yay! Meanwhile male labor force participation hits new low.
- Drew with excellent post on our ride in Nantou this weekend.
- Water prices not to rise for foreseeable future.
- The US Taiwan Defense Command blog pointed to this 1976 Pittsburgh Press newspaper article on the then-fading US presence in Taiwan.
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