According to China’s National Bureau of Statistics, the country’s total population stood at 1.38 billion by the end of 2016 with males making up a terrifyingly larger chunk of that number than females.
While the male population totaled 708.15 million, the female population was just 674.56 million — a difference of 33.59 million people or more than the total population of Malaysia.
It’s this kind of data that has demographers and Chinese bachelors a bit concerned, while officials remain worried that a dearth of marriageable women could cause social unrest among China’s many “bare branches.” To help fill the gender gap, human trafficking rings have been doing booming business, kidnapping women from neighboring countries like Vietnam to sell as brides in rural China.
China’s infamous one-child policy and traditional preference for boys is commonly perceived to be behind the gender imbalance. However, last year, a couple of researchers believed that they had actually found the country’s “missing” 25 million women, explaining that instead of becoming victims of sex-selective abortions and female infanticide they actually went “missing” because of politics, and are now reappearing as women.
While China’s recently abolished one-child policy may have resulted in millions of sterilizations and abortions, it still didn’t stop many parents from having more than one kid. While some parents hid these “surplus” kids from local officials, other cadres took the more practical approach of simply turning a blind eye to these children in the interest of social stability — not recording their births but not raising a fuss either.
It is these “black children” that make analyzing China’s population data so difficult. Also on Sunday, China’s National Bureau of Statistics announced that in 2016 the country recorded its highest birth rate in 17 years following the scrapping of the one-child policy and the institution of the two-child one; however, this baby bump runs into the same data problems.
Follow Shanghaiist on WeChat