China's unbalanced sex ratio at birth, millions of excess bachelors and societal implications Academic Article uri icon


  • Between the 1960s and the 1990s China experienced a rapid fertility reduction, from more than six children per woman in the early 1960s to fewer than two children per woman in the 1990s. Since the 1980s this fertility reduction, one of the most rapid fertility declines in recorded human history, has resulted in significantly more boys being born each year than girls. In this article, we first develop estimates of how many extra boys have already been born in China as of 2010. We then project under two different assumptions how many extra boys will have been born in China by the year of 2020. One contribution of our article is methodological: we show exactly how our numbers of bachelors are generated. A second contribution of our article is substantive: we provide a count of the number of extra males in China for 2010 and two projected counts for 2020; the counts of excess males provided elsewhere are not this current. A third contribution of our article is our discussion of two of the key societal and international consequences of the excess boys of China. We focus on war and issues of national security, and on the transmission of sexually transmitted infections (STIs). These two implications extend beyond China itself and also have grave consequences for other countries of the world. © 2011 Copyright Taylor and Francis Group, LLC.

altmetric score

  • 11.108

author list (cited authors)

  • Poston, D. L., Conde, E., & DeSalvo, B.

citation count

  • 26

publication date

  • December 2011