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Georgia: Data Glitch Distorts Abortion Picture

Newborns at a maternity center in Georgia. The average observed ratio of boys to girls born in Georgia is higher than the natural sex-at-birth ratio of 105 boys for every 100 girls, but the problem appears to be smaller than often portrayed. (Photo: Georgia’s Ministry of Labor, Health and Social Affairs)

Sex-selective abortion in Georgia is a topic that has caught international attention. From an Economist article published in September 2013 to a 2015 UN report, Georgia tends to be portrayed as having one of the worst sex-selective abortion problems in the world. Closer inspection of the data, however, suggests the issue may be blown out of proportion.
 
The first study to draw attention to the sex-selective abortion issue in Georgia was published in 2013 in the journal International Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, and relied on statistics compiled by the World Health Organization. The authors found a sex-at-birth ratio of 121 boys for every 100 girls born in Georgia from 2005-2009. That number suggested there was a problem: one of the most common estimates of the natural sex-at-birth ratio is 105 boys for every 100 girls, or 95.2 girls for every 100 boys. Any difference between the natural and observed ratios in favor of boys is generally thought to be an indicator of sex-selective abortion.
 
The study suggested that Georgia had one of the largest sex-selective abortion problems in the world.
 

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Dustin Gilbreath is a Policy Analyst at CRRC-Georgia. He co-edits the organization’s blog Social Science in the Caucasus. The views presented in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of CRRC-Georgia.

Georgia: Data Glitch Distorts Abortion Picture

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