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The authors would like to thank the other members of the “Sex and Love” research team and acknowledge their hard work and input.
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In the absence of manipulation, both the sex ratio at birth and the population sex ratio are remarkably constant in human populations.
Accurate figures for sex ratio at birth are difficult to obtain in many populations because of inadequacy of vital statistics registration (2).Researchers have suggested that intentional unprotected anal intercourse (UAI) among gay and bisexual men (colloquially called barebacking), is on the rise.Further, they have linked this increase in barebacking to the growth of the Internet as a medium for men to meet sex partners.A key study of births for the period 1962 to 1980 in 24 countries in Europe showed a sex ratio of 105–107, with a median of 105.9 (5).The latter figure is widely used as the baseline for calculating deviations in the sex ratio.We then demonstrate how the tradition of preference for male offspring has led to huge distortions in the sex ratio in some countries.The wider social and political consequences of these distortions are discussed, with particular reference to China, India, and South Korea.Over 30 demographic and environmental factors have been studied for their effects on the sex ratio at birth, including family size, parental age, parental occupation, birth order, race, coital rate, hormonal treatments, exposure to environmental toxins, stress, several diseases, and war (6–9). However, studies of the Balkan Wars (14) and of the Iran–Iraq war (15) did not reproduce these findings.The finding of a small but significant increase in male births during and after war has been documented in Europe and the U. in both the First and Second World Wars (10–12), and in the U. Proposed biological explanations for the observed increase in sex ratio during war include stress to adult males, affecting the viability of XY-bearing vs.Small alterations do occur naturally; for example, a small excess of male births has been reported to occur during and after war.The tradition of son preference, however, has distorted these natural sex ratios in large parts of Asia and North Africa.