Study finds millions of China’s ‘missing girls’ actually exist

By Emiko Jozuka, CNN Updated 0802 GMT (1602 HKT) December 1, 2016

(CNN) — It sounds like the plot of a mystery novel.

A controversial one-child policy that resulted in as many as 60 million “missing girls” in China, the most populous country on Earth.

But in a new study, researchers suggest that around 25 million of these girls aren’t actually missing, but went unreported at birth — only appearing on government censuses at a later stage in their lives.

“Most people are using a demographic explanation to say that abortion or infanticide are the reasons (these girls) don’t show up in the census and that they don’t exist,” said John Kennedy, study co-author and political science professor at Kansas University.

“But we find there is a political explanation.”

The ‘non-existent’ one

A family in rural northwest China

A family in rural northwest China

When China implemented the one-child policy in 1979, the government expected local family planning officials to enforce it. However, implementing the rule proved harder in villages, where officials were also members of the community.

Kennedy — who spent long research stints in rural China — discovered that in many cases, village officials turned a blind eye to children born outside the one-child policy. They’d let them go unreported in order to maintain good relations with the villagers.

Kennedy said that by the mid-1980s, the Chinese government relaxed one-child policy rules in rural areas, allowing villagers to have a second child if the first was a girl. Yet in the 1990s, Kennedy discovered that lax policy enforcement had allowed families in rural areas to bypass the policy.

A farmer Kennedy spoke with shed light on the situation when he introduced his elder daughter and son by name, but referred to his middle daughter as the “non-existent one.”

“He told us that his first daughter was registered but that when his second child, a daughter, was born they did not register her and instead waited to have another child. The third child was a boy; they registered him as the “second” child,” said Kennedy.

Looking at official government censuses

Girls born during China's one-child policy sit in a village northwest China.

Girls born during China’s one-child policy sit in a village northwest China.

To supplement the observations they’d collected from interviews with villagers in rural China, Kennedy and study co-author Shi Yaojiang, an economics professor at Shaanxi Normal University, analyzed Chinese population data that spanned a 25-year period.

They discovered that though families didn’t register girls immediately after birth or in the months following, they tended to get reported between the ages of 10 to 20.

When the researchers compared the number of children born in 1990 with the number of Chinese men and women in 2010, they discovered four million more people. Of those, there were roughly one million more women than men.

“Between 1990 to 2000, we observed a much later registration for girls. This is as girls might tend to be registered before marriage whereas young boys will get registration earlier for education,” said Kennedy.

A new hope for the unregistered

In October 2015, China scrapped its one-child policy amid concerns over the economy and its aging population.

The country is infamous for its gender imbalance. Analysts have predicted that some 24 million Chinese men of marrying age will find themselves lacking wives by 2020.

Kennedy hopes that findings from his study suggest that China’s “marriage squeeze” — where young men can’t get married owing to a lack of women — might not be as serious as previously thought.

In 1958, China introduced ‘hukou’ or household registration laws that offered state welfare benefits to those connected to it by birth registration. Those whose births aren’t registered can’t benefit from this system to this day.

“They can’t get a job or feel like a part of society,” said Kennedy, who hopes that his study will encourage the Chinese government to help register those who remain unregistered to this day.

Source: CNN “Study finds millions of China’s ‘missing girls’ actually exist”

Note: This is CNN’s article I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the article’s views.


3 Comments on “Study finds millions of China’s ‘missing girls’ actually exist”

  1. Steve says:

    China’s population has just increased by millions of females. China will never run out of women marrying Chinese males. Just a short advert to Vietnam, Two Koreas, India, Russia, Taiwan, Cambodia, Laos, Burma and even now Japan, etc, will be overloaded with female responses.


  2. johnleecan says:

    This article is not true. We, the overseas ethnic China loving Chinese still want Japanese land and women to make up for the shortfall of women in China. With plans to take Japanese land, western media suddenly stopped their false propaganda of portraying China as baby girl murderers. CNN should provide indisputable proof there are millions of missing girls that actually exist. Unless the whole world is willing to accept when overly horny Chinese men go overseas and go on a massive impregnation of different races and nationalities by hundreds of millions on a scale never seen in human history.

    With regards to gender imbalance, it is not that Chinese parents murder their baby girls but it is the highly successful use of gender prediction before concepcion.


  3. Simon says:

    I’ve notice strange inconsistency that despite western media claiming a shortfall of females in China the country seems to have many girls available for adoption and women particularly over 30 marrying to husbands from abroad. There are also older women in China who are left behind and unable to find a husband. All this contradict the notion of gender imbalance of not enough females. If the shortage of female is genuine and as serious as that been reported in the media surely the government would have stepped in and stop the country’s females leaving. This report confirms such hooha is not as serious as first thought.