Indian Society

Sex Ratio in India

As per the Population Census of 2011, the Sex Ratio in India has increased to 943 from 933. Major change can be seen in states like, Delhi, Arunachal Pradesh and Chandigarh. We also saw decline in some states i.e., Bihar, Gujarat, Lakshadweep, Jammu & Kashmir, Dadra & Nagar Haveli and Daman & Diu. State/UT-wise details of sex ratio. (Source PIB)

What is Sex Ratio: The sex ratio is the number of females per 1000 males in a particular area at a given time. It is an important parameter that reflects the status of women in society. Sex ratio in India is highly imbalanced and tilted grossly towards male population. This is reflected in the figures of Census 2011 according to which adult sex ratio is 943 while child sex ratio is 919.

What are the reasons for low Sex Ratio?

  • Pre Natal Sex Determination is the main reason of low sex ratio in India.
  • Patriarchal societies in most of the parts of India leads to preference for boys and discriminations against the girl child.
  • Neglect of the girl child results in their higher mortality at younger age.
  • Dowry is one of the main causes of low sex ratio. People are worried about the dowry issue with the birth of a girl child.
  • Dependence on agriculture: Women work is always socially devalued with limited autonomy in decision making.
  • Lack of education: Lack of education is also a reason for women’s low status in society. It in turn adds up to lower sex ratio problem.
  • Child marriage: Many a times child marriage leads to early pregnancy and leads to maternal mortality.
  • Female foeticide: Due to female foeticide, the sex ratio declines terribly.
  • Less institutional delivery: Maternal mortality also contributes to the declining sex ratio as many women die during the childbirth due to improper care and less facilities.
  • Crime against women: Increasing crime against women is also one of the factors responsible for declining sex ratio.

What are the Social and Economic impacts of low Sex Ratio?

  1. Not enough women for men to marry and the institution of marriage would lose its relevance.
  2. Increased practices of child betrothal and early marriages.
  3. Increase in number of child brides will further contribute to the poor status of women as she will be less likely to finish the school or develop skills before marriage.
  4. Young brides and their children are also more likely to suffer from increased morbidity and mortality associated with early child birth.
  5. It may give rise to the reverse dowry system.
  6. Expansion of the sex industry with the magnitude of increase in STDs.
  7. Crime against women like rape, molestation, eve teasing or forced polyandry is also expected to rise.


  • Techniques like sex determination, infanticide, abortion etc. require money which poor doesn’t have in plenty.
  • Many a times because of meta-son preference a poor family keeps on giving birth to girl child. This in turn helps in improving sex ratio.
  • In order to get benefited from various government schemes for girl child, poor people doesn’t mind having a girl.
  • Punjab and Haryana are among the highest per-capita income states in India yet they stand among poor sex ratio states continuously.

Government Initiatives to curb the problem

  • The Government has intensified effective implementation of the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act (PCPNDT Act).
  • The Ministry of Communication and Information Technology has been requested to block sex selection advertisements on websites.
  • States have been advised to focus on Districts/Blocks/Villages with low Child Sex Ratio to ascertain the causes, plan appropriate behaviour change communication campaigns.
  • Religious leaders, women achievers etc. are also being involved in the campaign against skewed child sex ratio and discrimination of the girl child.
  • Various Policies like:
    • Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao
    • Sukanya Samriddhi Account
    • The Girl Child Protection Scheme
    • Aapki Beti, Humari Beti (Haryana)

Government should adopt some additional measures:

  • Strict and result oriented implementation schemes that empower women and girl child.
  • Job reservation for women in both private and public sector.
  • Providing reasonable old age pension can have positive impact on preference of a male child.
  • Strict punishment for the offenders of foeticide.

In most parts of India, women are merely considered as an object. We need to change the mindset of the people towards women and equality. Equality needs to be inculcated in children in the days of primary socialization. And slowly the impacts will show up in equality in all spheres resulting in the empowerment of women in our society.

Photo Credit: Magda Ehlers ( ( (

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