The Missing Girls of China

This article by law professor David M. Smolin analyzes the causes and possible solutions to the sex ratio imbalance of China, as well as the causes of the diminishing numbers of intercountry adoptions from China.

Part I provides statistical, historical, and cultural analysis of China’s “missing girls” (sex-ratio imbalance), concluding that sex selective abortion has become the primary cause of China missing approximately ten percent of females at birth. The article focuses on both cultural factors and China’s population control policies as causative factors.

Part II discusses population control, declining fertility, and the devaluation of girls and women, analyzing a context where declining fertility has been accompanied by continued and profound discrimination against females.

Part III discusses abortion within the context of population control policies, technological control of procreation, and the large-scale, illicit practice of sex-selective abortion.

Part IV discusses approaches to reducing China’s sex-ratio imbalance and the practice of sex-selective abortion. Part V discusses China’s intercountry adoption program, analyzing the causes of the statistical changes in intercountry adoptions, including the significant declines from 2004 through 2010. This section discusses intercountry and domestic adoption in China within the contexts of China’s population control policies, sex ratio imbalance, sex-selective abortion, and trafficking issues.

Suggested Citation

David M. Smolin. “The MIssing Girls of China: Population, Policy, Culture, Gender, Abortion, Abandonment, and Adoption in East-Asian Perspective” Cumberland Law Review 41.1 (2011): 1-65.

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