This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 12th (it came out in 2015), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

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Monday, February 6, 2017

Girls Are Gaining Ground in South Korea

Thanks to Stuart Gietel-Basten for pointing out a story in the Economist detailing the drop in the sex ratio at birth (boys/girls) in Asia generally, but particularly in South Korea. This is all wrapped up in the "war on baby girls" that seems to be winding down, according to a related story in the Economist.
Until the early 20th century failure to bear a son was grounds for divorce. Koreans greatly preferred boys, who could not only support their parents financially but also carry out ancestral rites. When ultrasound technology became widespread in the 1980s, many South Koreans used it to detect female fetuses and then have them aborted. Sex ratios became skewed. In 1992 twice as many fourth babies were boys as were girls.
That was before women started moving into the labor force in larger numbers in the 1990s and the opportunity costs of having a daughter suddenly went from negative to positive. The younger generation of Koreans now seems as equally satisfied with a girl or boy, as the opinion poll data below show:

This is obviously very good news for South Korea's economic and demographic future.


  1. Good stuff!

    Here is y prediction for Europe: Due to very TFR and high TFR in the Muslim world (yes, there are exceptions, I know, but) we will continue to see massive immigration of Muslims into Western Europe. The moribund populations of Europe will decline, and with them, their cultural habits (rule of law, valuing women's education, etc) will also die out. The cultural habits of the new and growing populations of Muslims will replace those moribund cultural habits. So look for declining rates of education for women, an increase in anti-Semitism, inferior legal status for non-Muslims (this is universal throughout the Muslims world), and nepotism rather than meritocracy.

    What do you think? Having lived in the Middle East and Europe over the years I've seen it taking place.

    And some recent material on Germany:

    I suspect you will not address the topic in your blog because it challenges your multicultural presuppositions. Or maybe you agree with everything and are concerned, but will not post anything because of the tyrannical nature of the American university system which forces academics to engage in self-censorship?

    But anyway, do know how much I appreciate your blog and enjoy reading it. Hope you are well.

    1. Well, I think that your prediction raises the precise issues that have been fueling populism and anti-immigrant sentiment in the U.S. and Europe. A large influx of any group into a region is going to create problems, and my view is that the best antidote is for the international community to work hard to lower birth rates and raise incomes in potential sending countries in order to stem the flow.

      With respect to your comment about multiculturalism, my view is that receiving countries need to have a strong program of immigrant integration in place (as, indeed, the article you mentioned also suggests). The idea is not to destroy a migrant's cultural background, but rather to bring the migrant into the receiving culture--to integrate with respect to language and ways of viewing the world. That is not easy and is more readily accomplished when the numbers are relatively small.