Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home

Missing Girls or Hidden Girls? A Comment on Shi and Kennedy's “Delayed Registration and Identifying the ‘Missing Girls’ in China”

  • Yong Cai (a1)

Extract

In a recent article published in this journal, Yaojiang Shi and John Kennedy suggest that China's missing girls problem is much more a statistical artefact than previously known. According to their analysis, unreported female births, or hidden girls, account for 73 per cent of the 15 million missing girls from the 1990–2010 birth cohorts in the 2010 census. Their conclusion is based in part on their fieldwork, but the numerical estimate is grounded on their understanding and analyses of Chinese census data. While the insights from their fieldwork – that China's political system leaves ample room for data manipulation and delayed registration – cannot be faulted, Shi and Kennedy's analyses of Chinese census data are questionable and their conclusion is in contradiction with the “missing girls” shown in other data sources. In this short note, I present three lines of evidence to challenge Shi and Kennedy's conclusion: one from the censuses, one from official education statistics, and one from survey data. For the sake of clarity, I use two terms to describe missing girls: nominal missing – the number of missing girls as revealed by population statistics, and truly missing – the number of missing girls excluding those hidden (unreported) girls. My conclusion backs the conventional wisdom about the missing girls phenomenon in China: the elevated sex ratios in Chinese population, or “missing girls,” is not a statistical artefact, but a real social challenge that China has to face for now and for the foreseeable future.

Copyright

References

Hide All
Cai, Yong. 2009. “Jiaoyu tongji zhende shi guji shengyu shuiping de huangjinbiaozhun ma?” (Does enrollment statistics provide a gold standard for Chinese fertility estimates?). Renkou yanjiu (Population Research) 33(4), 2233.
Cai, Yong. 2013. “China's new demographic reality: learning from the 2010 census.” Population and Development Review 39(3), 371396.
Cai, Yong. 2014. “China's demographic challenges: gender imbalance.” In deLisle, Jacques and Goldstein, Avery (eds.), China's Challenges. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 6082.
Cai, Yong, and Lavely, William R.. 2003. “China's missing girls: numerical estimates and effects on population growth.” China Review 3 (2), 1329.
Coale, Ansley J., and Banister, Judith. 1994. “Five decades of missing females in China.” Demography 31(3), 459–79. doi:10.2307/2061752.
Coale, Ansley, and Demeny, Paul George with Vaughan, Barbara. 1983. Regional Model Life Tables and Stable Populations. 2nd edition. New York: Academic Press.
Cui, Hongyan, Xu, Lan and Li, Rui. 2013. “Dui 2010 nian renkoupucha shuju zhengquexing de guji” (An evaluation of data accuracy of the 2010 population census of China). Renkou yanjiu (Population Research) 37(1), 1021.
Goodkind, Daniel. 2011. “Child underreporting, fertility, and sex ratio imbalance in China.” Demography 48(1), 291316.
Guilmoto, Christophe. 2012. Sex Imbalances at Birth: Current Trends, Consequences and Policy Implications. UNFPA Asia and the Pacific Regional Office, Bangkok, Thailand.
Ministry of Education. 1989–2015. Zhongguo jiaoyu tongji nianjian (Educational Statistics Yearbook of China) . Beijing: People's Education Press.
Shi, Yaojiang, and Kennedy, John James. 2016. “Delayed registration and identifying the ‘missing girls’ in China.” The China Quarterly 228, 10181038.
Zeng, Yi, Tu, Ping, Gu, Baochang, Xu, Yi, Li, Bohua, and Li, Yongping. 1993. “Causes and implications of the recent increase in the reported sex ratio at birth in China.” Population and Development Review 19(2), 283302.

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed