China's Gender Balance Improves Despite Increase in Proportion of Male Newborns

By Guo Wei
Published: 2011-04-29

China's statistics bureau yesterday announced key data collected during the once-a-decade nationwide census carried out last November.

Ma Jiantang, director of the National Bureau of Statistics, released the first of a series of communiques containing headline figures culled from the huge amount of data collected as part of the cenus.

This initial report included headline figures about total population, the average size of households, the division of the population into different groupings according to gender, age, ethnicity, level of education, geographic distribution and whether or not they were rural or urban dwellers.

The No. 1 communique also included details about literacy rates.

During the question and answer session with journalists that followed the official announcement of the data, a journalist from the Christian Science Monitor asked Ma Jiantang to offer an explanation regarding the narrowing of the gender gap contained in the 2010 census figures.

According to the latest data, men accounted for 51.27 percent and women 48.73 percent of the population. This translates to 105.2 men to every 100 women, down from the proportion of 106.74 men per 100 women reported in the 2000 census.

The director's answer to the question referred to unpublished data about the proportion of male births to female births continued to increase when compared to the level recorded during the last nation-wide census conducted in 2010 to 118.6 male births to every 100 female births, but he noted that this was down on both the 2005 figure, which was calculated according to a much more limited population survey, of 118.59 and also the 2009 figure of 119.45.

Ma Jiantang attempted to link these more recent declines to the effectiveness of various government policies implemented over recent years.

Still, we find it difficult to understand how the increase in the proportion of male births from 116.86 per each 100 female births in 2000, to 118.6 male births per 100 female births in 2010 could have resulted in a shift towards a more balanced sex composition,

You can read the full details of the first report in English here.

Composition of Nationalities: Han: 91.51% Other: 8.49%

Age Composition: 0-14: 16.60 percent of the total population; 15-59: 70.14 percent and 60 and over: 13.26 percent

Urban and Rural Population: 665,575,306 persons were urban residents, accounting for 49.68 percent and 674,149,546 persons were rural residents, accounting for 50.32 percent

Links and Sources
National Bureau of Statistics:
Press Release on Major Figures of the 2010 National Population Census
National Bureau of Statistics: 第六次全国人口普查主要数据发布 (Chinese)
National Bureau of Statistics: Transcript of press conference (Chinese)