I am in the middle of reading Sex at Dawn, which I will review a bit later, when I came upon this interesting little tidbit:
A late nineteenth-century missionary living in China reported that of 183 sons and 175 daughters born in a typical community, 126 sons lived to age ten (69 percent), while only 53 daughters made it that far (30 percent). China’s one-child policy, combined with the cultural prefrence for sons, has only worsened the already dismal odds of survival for female infants.
The nineteenth century evidence they present here is anecdotal, but they provide copious evidence throughout the chapter that infanticide is increasingly common the farther back in history you go, with currently living hunter gather groups killing around 40% of all infants (70% of children don’t live past 10).
There’s a story floating around the papers that development, particularly “female empowerment” leads to more sex selective abortion. While it might have led to more sex selective abortion it certainly hasn’t led to more sex selection. China’s sex ratio is currently 54.5% male, hardly the levels mentioned in the quotation from the book above. Imbalances are also primarily focused on rural, and less developed areas where its hard to imagine women are more “empowered.” Conversely, sex selection in Korea, which was once hailed as one of the most “patriarchal” cultures in the world did a complete turnaround on sex selection once they reached middle income levels.
Resource shortage is the problem here. Development is the solution.