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Boys present a problem for city's future

SHANGHAI, like the rest of the country, has a gender imbalance in both the total population and in newborn babies. This week saw the launch of a national campaign to solve the problem by curbing non-medical sex determinations and sex-selective abortions. The latest national census conducted last November revealed that the gender ratio between Shanghai's male and female residents was 106.18:100, up from the 105.68:100 in the previous census 10 years ago. Residents include those with local registered residency and migrant people living in the city for more than six months. The city also sees more boys born than girls, though the ratio has been declining since 2008 after continuous growth from 2000. The gender ratio in 2009, the latest figures to be released by the local population authority, was 113.7 boys for every 100 girls among local residents. In 2008, it had been 114.8 boys to 100 girls. The birth gender ratio of migrant people, mostly farmers who were keen to have boys rather than girls, was 120.9 boys to every 100 girls in 2009. Shanghai has been carrying out girl preferential policies and strictly banning non-medical sex check and sex-selective abortions to control the gender imbalance. Experts have warned that millions of Chinese men of marriageable age will be bachelors by 2020 due to gender imbalance, a trend that will add pressure to social stability. Boys under 19 outnumber girls in the same age group by 23.77 million, according to National Bureau of Statistics data. May-December romances will be more common in China, and there will be more urban bachelors seeking rural girls, Zhai Zhenwu, dean of the School of Sociology and Population Studies at the Renmin University of China, told the People's Daily yesterday. Forced marriage Poorer people will be more likely to feel the pinch of China's gender imbalance, with rural men resorting to prostitutes and "mercenary" marriages, in which women are sold to men and forced into marriage, he said. China's sex ratio at birth was 118.08 males for every 1! 00 femal es in 2010, higher than the desired norm of 103 to 107 boys per 100 girls. Baby boys have a higher mortality. To help restore gender balance, China has promoted the idea that "girls are as good as boys" and beefed up efforts to fight sex-selective abortions. During the eight-month campaign launched this week, efforts will be made to raise awareness of gender equality, to severely punish those involved in cases of non-medical sex determinations and sex-selective abortions, and to strengthen monitoring.

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