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Culture and policy explain why sex ratios are skewed in Asia

Patriarchal societies translate to a preference for boys in China and India

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An elderly farmer walks through his field with his two grandsons on the outskirts of the city of Weifang, Shandong Province.   © Reuters

TOKYO Asia's recent demographic upheaval is well documented: Rapid economic development and urbanization over recent decades have pushed up life expectancy, leading to aging populations and the array of socioeconomic challenges that quickly follow suit.

But another demographic shift is now rearing its head, and it brings with it a new set of pressures. Several of Asia's largest countries are experiencing male surpluses -- where men outnumber women in the population -- among young adults. This is the result of a "boy preference" among parents in the 1980s, when today's 20-somethings were born.

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