16 million girls

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Sixteen million girls are missing in China. And now we know what happened to them: They were aborted because they weren’t boys.

A study published last week in the British Medical Journal, based on a survey of nearly 5 million Chinese children and teenagers, bares the gruesome numbers. Worldwide, the number of boys born per 100 girls ranges from 103 to 107. (The numbers later equalize due to higher male mortality.) Among Chinese children born from 1985 to 1989, the number of boys per 100 girls was 108, close to normal. But among those born from 2000 to 2004, the number rose to 124. The authors conclude that as of 2005, “males under the age of 20 exceeded females by more than 32 million.”

William Saletan

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