Selective abortion of female babies does not reflect the full story about unequal populations of men to women in countries across the world. A Heriot-Watt professor is discussing the issue as part of the Cabinet of Dangerous Ideas and is questioning whether the feminist viewpoint obscures more than it clarifies.
The gender ratio (males per 100 females) varies greatly between countries and regions. In the UK, the ratio is 98, in the US, 97 and in the EU taken as a whole, 92.
In his Fringe show, 'Sex-Selective Abortions: Behind the Headlines', Dr Prabir Bhattacharya is looking at gender ratios across the world, trying to address some of the reasons for widely differing variations. He looks beyond the well-reported preference for boys in countries such as China and India to highlight statistics from other countries such as Russia and Ukraine where women far outnumber men.
"The gender ratio (males per 100 females) varies greatly between countries and regions. In the UK, the ratio is 98, in the US, 97 and in the EU taken as a whole, 92. In the sub-Saharan Africa, where the life expectancy at birth for both males and females is quite low, the ratio is 99. In Russia, Ukraine and some of the former Eastern bloc countries, the ratio is among the lowest in the world: 86 for both Russia and Ukraine," Dr Bhattacharya said.
"In contrast, there are many countries in the world - most notably China and India - where the ratio is abnormally high. Clearly, there is a problem of 'missing women' in these countries and a need for an explanation for this. Among other things, I will talk about 'son preference', female disadvantage in child survival and sex selective abortions in these countries. Policy issues will be discussed.
"However, even in India and China, there are now more women than men in the elderly population. The sex ratio of the population in the age group 65 years and above is 90 in India and 91 in China. For comparison, this ratio is 76 for the UK and 75 for the US. However, for Russia this ratio is astonishingly low: only 45.
"China, India and Russia are, of course, major emerging economies. I will compare and contrast the inequality and deprivations as reflected in their sex ratios and suggest that India and China probably have better prospects of sustained economic growth in the foreseeable future than does Russia."