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104.7 males are born per 100 females in Korea

Posted March. 02, 2023 07:38,   

Updated March. 02, 2023 07:38


The gender ratio at birth, which refers to the number of male births per 100 female births, has fallen below 105 for the first time in 45 years, reaching its lowest level. The gender ratio for third children, which had been kept high due to a preference for sons, has also fallen to a similar level as that of first children.

According to the Korea Statistical Information Service under the National Statistical Office on Wednesday, the total gender ratio at birth last year was 104.7, down 0.4 from a year earlier. This marks the lowest level in 45 years since 1977 when it hit an all-time low of 104.2.

In Korea, the gender ratio at birth fluctuated between 104 and 111 in the 1970s and 1980s, peaking at 116.5 in 1990. This is attributed to the less prevalent gender-conscious atmosphere until the 1970s when people had more children. However, the trend seemed to change when the family planning movement of "Have only two children and raise them well" began in the 1980s, increasing gender selection to have sons.

Back in 1994, the artificial gender selection of fetuses was banned due to concerns about gender imbalances becoming a serious social issue. However, since the 2000s, the gender ratio at birth, which had previously been declining, has entered the normal range, reaching 106.2 in 2007. The normal range for the gender ratio at birth is considered to be between 103 and 107.

Last year, the gender ratio at birth for each birth rank, including first, second, and third or higher-born children, was within the normal range. The gender ratio for first-borns was 104.8, a decrease of 0.5 from the previous year. The sex ratio for second-borns was the same as the previous year, at 104.6. Meanwhile, the sex ratio for third or higher-borns was the lowest since the ranking was first calculated in 1990, at 105.4. It was common to continue giving birth until a son was born, as people believed in "continuing the family line," resulting in a higher gender ratio for third or higher-borns than for first-borns. In 1993, the ratio for third or higher-borns soared to an all-time high of 209.7.

Hye-Ryung Choi herstory@donga.com