BEIJING, May 11, 2004 ( – Chinese government officials admitted Monday that an enormous problem has been created by their one-child policy.

Currently there are 117 boys for every 100 girls in China—13 million more boys than girls under the age of nine. The Chinese have traditionally favoured boys over girls, because a man can better take care of the parents in their old age, as well as carry on the family name. This custom has led to unbridled female infanticide and the selective abortion of female children.

With a continuation of the current policy, by 2020, the gender discrepancy will be as high as 40 million more men than women.

“Such serious gender disproportion poses a major threat to the healthy, harmonious and sustainable growth of the nation’s population and would trigger such crimes and social problems as mercenary marriage, abduction of women and prostitution,” Li Weixiong, deputy chairman of the family planning committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, said, as reported by the Toronto Star.  Authorities contend there are no plans to scrap the one-child policy, although an easing of restrictions has occurred in some areas. In Beijing, for example, divorced couples who remarry can try to have a second child.  Officials are trying to curb female infanticide and selective abortion by outlawing ultrasonography for determining the sex of the child, as well as imposing fines for people caught killing a child.  Zhang Weiqing, National Population and Family Planning Commission Minister, wants a measure imposed to stop the disproportion in gender.

Zhang also said the disproportionate ratio of seniors to working age people is going to lead to a failure of social security and retirement programs. In 1999, there were 10 workers per retiree, by 2020, this ratio is expected to fall to six workers and to three workers per retiree by 2050. The worker shortage in China is expected to have disastrous economic consequences, a forecast which parallels similar predictions for industrialized western nations.

“The aging problem is much more severe in the country’s rural areas than in urban areas, which challenges the establishment of a health insurance system and social security system for the elderly,” he said.  Read related coverage:  “China’s One-Child Policy to Cripple Chinese Economy,” at:   “China’s One-Child Policy Leading to One-Sex Population,” at:   Also see the related special report “UNFPA Supports Coercive Family Planning-Including Forced Abortion in China” at: