An estimated 200 to 300 million births in China have been avoided by its one-child policy, promulgated in 1979. As the country grapples with a looming labour shortage resulting from the policy, other repercussions are emerging. Last year, China’s State Population and Family Planning Commission formally announced that, by the 2000 census, China’s sex ratio at birth had reached 117 boys to 100 girls, up dramatically from the 1982 census ratio of 108.5 boys to 100 girls. The Chinese press has widely reported that, if current trends persist, there will be 30 to 40 million males who won’t be able to marry. Commentators are suggesting that this gender imbalance will prompt local governments to adopt measures to help males find marriage partners and perhaps even prompt society to show more tolerance for homosexuality and prostitution.
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