Taiwan’s newborn sex ratio falls to lowest level in 16 years

Taiwan’s ratio of newborn boys to girls was 1.079 in 2011, down from 1.09 a year earlier and the lowest level since 1996, according to the Department of Health.

Chiu Shu-ti, director-general of the DOH Bureau of Health Promotion, attributed the encouraging result to government measures aimed at prohibiting sex-selective abortions and public-private campaigns promoting gender equality awareness.

“To improve the country’s imbalanced sex ratio, the DOH has been publishing birth statistics on a regular basis and monitoring hospitals with irregular numbers since May 2010,” Chiu said. “Thanks to these efforts, 993 baby girls were saved in 2011.”

Taiwan has recorded an off-kilter newborn sex ratio for decades, a symptom of the preference for male offspring in Asian society.

While Chiu said this change also illustrates a shift away from traditional thinking by younger parents, “government policies cracking down on illegal sex selection practices are playing a bigger role in restoring the sex ratio balance.”

“The DOH will continue implementing measures to improve Taiwan’s newborn sex ratio,” Chiu said. “We expect these efforts will see Taiwan achieve a balance in the sexes at birth in five to 10 years.”