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China to correct gender imbalance by loosening One Child Policy

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Last week China released new census data showing that Chinese families favor sons over daughters. In 2014, according to the data, Chinese women gave birth to 115.9 boys for every 100 girls. (The natural human birth ratio is around 105 boys to every 100 girls.) Skewed gender ratios of this sort date back to the early 1980s, and the impact has been cumulative. China now has 33 million more men than women, tens of millions of whom may never be able to find mates.
上周,中国发布了新的人口普查数据,数据显示,中国家庭更喜欢儿子,2014年,中国男女新生儿比例平均数为115:100。这种倾斜的性别比例可以追溯到20世纪80年代初,且影响是累积性的。如今,中国的男性人口比女性多3300多万。

China’s so-called one-child policy was initiated in the early 1980s with the goal of slowing the country’s population growth. According to the prevailing narrative, it also had the effect of skewing the country’s gender balance. The policy is said to have encouraged expectant parents who harbored a traditional preference for sons over daughters to seek out ultrasounds and — if a girl was expected — to pursue sex selective abortions. In that sense, Chinese President Xi Jinping’s loosening of the one-child policy in Nov. 2013 might reasonably be expected to begin correcting the country’s gender imbalance.
中国20世纪80年代初开始实施计划生育,一种流行的观点认为,这一政策导致中国性别比例失衡。根据这种观点,计划生育促使重男轻女的准父母在孩子出生前进行胎儿性别鉴定,如果发现怀的是女孩就选择堕胎。

Census data reveals, however, that Chinese families with multiple children have made a disproportionate contribution in recent years to the country’s gender imbalance. According to an analysis of census data from 2000, 51.5 percent of first children surveyed were boys — a nearly normal sex ratio. But in those cases where a first child was a girl, 62 percent of the children who followed were sons — a completely unnatural ratio. And, in those cases where families had two daughters, the likelihood that a third child would be a son was 70 percent.
然而,人口普查数据显示,中国近年来性别比例失衡,多子女家庭在其中扮演了极其重要的角色。对2000年人口普查数据进行分析后发现,被调查家庭所生育第 一个子女中,男孩所占比例为51.5%。而在那些头胎生了女儿的家庭中,第二胎中男孩所占比例为62%——一个完全不正常的高比例。至于那些生了两胎都是女孩的家庭,所生第三胎中男孩比例则高达70%。

The phenomenon isn’t just confined to the 2000 census. A 2009 study of Chinese census data taken in 2005 showed that second born children had an average sex ratio of 146 boys to 100 girls (and, in nine provinces it exceeded 160 to 100), while first children, again, had nearly normal sex ratios. And as recently as 2011, the Chinese province of Heilongjiang reported a sex ratio of 113.45 to 100 for second order births and 147 to 100 for third order births. In all cases, it’s second children — not the first born children that one would assume would be most affected by the one-child policy — that make the greatest contribution to China’s unbalanced sex ratio.
这一现象并不仅限于2000年的人口普查数据,2009年、2011年的人口调查、报告中也发现类似情形。总而言之,造成中国性别比例失衡的最大因素是家庭生育的第二个孩子,而不是人们一贯认为的受计划生育影响最严重的第一个孩子。

What explains this phenomenon? At least two studies have shown that families allowed to have two-children maintain a preference for boys that co-exists with a desire for a male-female mix (a male-male mix is less desirable). In other words: If a couple desires a boy and a girl — as many Chinese apparently do — the least emotionally and financially draining means of ensuring that outcome is to allow nature to take its course with the first child, and sex select as necessary with the second.
怎么解释这一现象呢?至少有两个调查表明,被允许生二胎的家庭在偏好男孩的同时,还希望所生的两个孩子是一男一女(凑合一些两个男孩也能接受)。换句话 说,如果一对夫妻想要一个男孩一个女孩——很多中国家庭明显都有这种偏好——要确保这种结果出现,在情感上和经济上最保险的做法就是,生第一胎时顺其自 然,第二胎时则会进行必要的性别筛选。

According to a 2014 study, women in China with high school educations (and, presumably, more earning power) were 7.4 percent more likely to have a boy as their second child than women with no formal schooling, while sex ratio imbalances were most pronounced in counties with the greatest growth in economic output.
2014年的一份调查显示,相比那些没有受过正规学校教育的女性,中国7.4%的受过高等教育女性更有可能在第二胎生男孩;经济增长最快的国家,其性别比例失衡也最严重。也就是说,经济发展赋予了家庭将现有文化偏见付诸行动的能力。这种现象并不只是存在于中国。医学期刊《柳叶刀》2011年的一次调查显示,在同样存在性别比例失衡现象的印度,随着家庭收入水平和母亲受教育程度的提高,第二胎生育男孩的可能性也相应增加。

India doesn’t have a one-child (or one-plus child) policy. But the fact that it’s facing a similar problem strongly suggests there are deep-seated cultural factors at work in both countries. China, in other words, won’t be able to correct its gender imbalance simply by loosening its family planning policies.
印度没有计划生育,但面临着与中国同样的问题。这有力表明,两个国家的人口事务中都存在着深层次的文化因素。换句话说,中国没法通过单纯放宽计划生育政策,纠正性别比例失衡问题。

2016-06-23

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