Millions of girls set to be lost to sex-selective abortion in coming decades

Sex-selective abortions will result in dramatically fewer women worldwide in the coming decades, a study has forecast.

The paper, published in BMJ Global Health, estimated that countries which already favour male children will experience a deficit of 4.7 million female births by 2030, which could reach 5.7 million by 2100. If sex-selective abortion becomes prevalent in other countries in the future, then the figure could rise to 22 million by the end of the century.

Researchers estimated that there were 45 million missing female births due to sex-selective abortions between 1970 and 2017 – over 95 per cent from China or India.


Dr Fengqing Chao, the study’s lead author from King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), Saudi Arabia, commented: “Fewer than expected females in a population could result in elevated levels of antisocial behaviour and violence, and may ultimately affect long-term stability and social sustainable development.”

The researchers concluded that their findings were important in order to “strengthen policies against prenatal sex selection” worldwide.

Their projections were based on a database with 3.26 billion birth records between 1950 and 2020 from 204 countries.


Last year, a different study estimated that seven million fewer girls were expected to be born in India before 2030 due to sex-selective abortions.

Academics from KAUST said the dramatic figures were a result of a preference for boys, and called for the introduction of support to counter “existing gender biases”.

Also see:

Baby foot

Over 23 million girls killed by sex-selective abortion

Sex selective abortion: ‘Good for mother and child’, claims BMA ethics member

‘Horrifying charity’ BPAS still backs sex-selective abortion

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