Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Where have all the flowers gone?

At least 117 boys were being born for every 100 girls at the beginning of this century in China. Philip Ball asks whether Chinese birth rates can be controlled without exacerbating the gender imbalance.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Access options

Rent or buy this article

Get just this article for as long as you need it


Prices may be subject to local taxes which are calculated during checkout


  1. Guilmoto, C. Z. & Attané, I. Watering the Neighbour's Garden: The Growing Demographic Female Deficit in Asia (eds Attané, I. & Guilmoto, C. Z.) 109–130 (CICRED, Paris, 2007).

    Google Scholar 

  2. Niu, W. Y. The Overview of China's Sustainable Development Ch. 10, 259–288 (Science Press, Beijing, 2007).

    Google Scholar 

  3. Hesketh, T. & Xing, Z. W. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 103, 13271–13275 (2006).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

Download references


Additional information

See Editorial, page 367, and Books & Arts, page 403 For a podcast and more on China see

Related links

Related links

Related links in Nature Research

China's challenges

Related external links

Sex ratios in Asia

One-child policy

China demographics

Hesketh & Xing PNAS paper

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Ball, P. Where have all the flowers gone?. Nature 454, 374–375 (2008).

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing