What Is the Ratio of Men to Women in the World Population?

By Staff WriterLast Updated May 27, 2020 7:42:27 PM ET
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Daniel X. O’Neil/Flickr

Out of 1,000 people, about 504 are men and 496 are women. The exact ratio is 63:62. However, this number varies greatly around the world and across age groups for many different reasons. Numerous cultural and socioeconomic factors affect a country’s sex ratio.

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Gender Ratios Across Age Groups

The population ratio between men and women changes dramatically as people age. On average, 105 boys are born worldwide for every 100 girls, or a ratio of 21:20. This is because miscarriages are slightly more likely in female embryos. However, female infants are more likely to die from birth complications and diseases, leading to the ratio balancing out over time before shifting in favor of women during the later years of a person’s life. In France, for instance, the number of men and women balances out around age 25. If a French person manages to reach 100 years in age, the ratio becomes one man for every four women. The reason for this is that males are more likely to die in childhood and adulthood.

Where Men Outnumber Women

The highest ratios of men to women are in Middle Eastern countries, such as Saudi Arabia, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The reason for this is not a disparity in how many female children are born or survive into old age, but the rather large number of male migrants in these countries. Migrants made up 45 percent and 88 percent, respectively, of the populations of Oman and the UAE in 2017. Of those groups, only 16 percent and 25 percent were female.

That is not the case in China and India. China has, at times, had male-to-female ratios of more than 120 boys for every 100 girls, or six to five, while India frequently exceeds the normal 21:20 ratio. In both countries, the disparity is the result of a preference for sons over daughters and the use of sex-selective abortion and infanticide. Between these two countries, men outnumber women by 80 million.

Where Women Outnumber Men

The former nations of the Soviet Union, such as Russia, Ukraine, and the Baltic states, all have more women than men. There are several reasons for this. World War I, the Russian Civil War, World War II, and Soviet purges all decreased the male population in particular. By 1959, there were only 81.9 men for every 100 women, with parts of the Soviet Union directly affected by war facing even more unequal ratios. This number improved to 89.5 men for every 100 women by 1989, but it worsened again in the 1990s due to widespread problems with alcohol.

National Wealth and Sex Ratios

Socioeconomic development has a complex relationship with male-to-female ratios. Increased education leads to a decrease in both preferences for a son and a likelihood to have more children. When people in more developed nations do prefer one sex over another, however, they are more able to act on that preference through either abortion or infanticide.

Consequences of Sex Disparities

Unequal numbers of men and women cause problems throughout a society. In societies with more men, younger and poorer men are unlikely are less likely to marry. Countries with unequal numbers of men and women, in general, are also more likely to experience violence against women and sex trafficking. Some scientists suggest that unequal numbers of men and women lead to less stable societies, although proving this theory is difficult.