What is a sex ratio?
A sex ratio, also called gender ratio, is a measure of the number of males within a given group of people (such as a country's populace) compared to the number of females within that same group. As of late 2022, sex ratios focus primarily upon males and females, but the metric could arguably expand to more accurately represent non-binary genders as well. Gender ratio may be written in any of several formats. For example, a ratio of 300 men and 200 women might be written as 1.5 to 1, 1.5:1, 150 (representing the number of males per each 100 females), or 60/40 (representing the average number of men/women out of every 100 people). It may also be written in the reverse, with the number of females placed before the number of males, and labeled a femininity ratio.
Although one might expect sex ratios to fall into an even 1:1 split between males and females, this is not necessarily the case. The natural male/female rate of birth in humans is roughly 107 males per 100 females (although males have a shorter life expectancy). Moreover, sex ratios can be significantly impacted by various societal factors.
Factors that can influence gender ratios:
- The country could be drawn into war, insurrection, or violent civil unrest, which tend to cost a disproportionate number of male lives.
- Disease that is more effective among a specific gender or gender-optimized profession (such as construction work) could break out—for example, COVID-19 was deadlier for men than for women.
- In some societies, male children are considered preferable, so female babies may be aborted, discarded, or given up for international adoption.
- Most impactfully of all (in current country-level demographics), a surplus or lack of employment could encourage migrant workers, who are predominantly male, to travel into or out of a country in search of work.
Top 10 Countries With the Highest Sex Ratios (Males per 100 Females - UN 2022):
- Qatar — 266
- United Arab Emirates — 228.2
- Bahrain — 163.8
- Oman — 157
- Kuwait — 156.1
- Saudi Arabia — 136.8
- Maldives — 136.3
- Sint Maarten — 115.2
- Bhutan — 112.5
- Equatorial Guinea — 112
With 266 males for every 100 females, the Arab nation of Qatar has the highest sex ratio in the world. Qatar's high gender ratio is due to the country's vast number of migrant workers, who make up approximately 88% of the Qatari population and significantly outnumber Qataris. Hailing predominantly from South Asia, Egypt, and the Philippines, Qatar's migrant workers are disproportionately male, which in turn skews the male/female balance on a national level.
2. United Arab Emirates
The United Arab Emirates has the second-largest gender ratio: 224 males per 100 females. As in Qatar, the high sex ratio in the United Arab Emirates is due to heavy reliance on expatriate workers, most of whom are males from developing countries in Asia, Africa, and South America. They work on the construction sites and other industries have boomed in the United Arab Emirates since the discovery of oil.
Bahrain has a sex ratio of 163.8 to 100. Bahrain, too, has a higher gender ratio due to the immigration of male workers from other nations. Moreover, increased life expectancy for males and Bahraini society's valuation of males over females also contribute to a high gender ratio.
Oman has a sex ratio of 157 males per 100 females. While the sex ratio was 103.08 males per 100 females in the 1950s, this ratio has dramatically increased since the 1970s as a result of a huge influx of male migrant workers from developing countries flocking to the oil-rich nation every year. Improved life expectancy at birth also contributes to the high sex ratio in Oman.
Why is the sex ratio important?
A country's sex ratio can have a ripple effect across many aspects of society. For instance, countries with a lack of eligible males or females may find it difficult to sustain a birth rate that matches or exceeds its death rate. This, in turn, can result in a decreasing population and fewer able-bodied workers entering the workforce, ultimately leading to a stagnant or shrinking economy and reduced gross domestic product. Sex ratio has also been shown to impact crime rates, marital stability, and women's decisions as to whether to start a family or focus upon their career.
How can a sex ratio be misleading?
It is vital to know what age range and demographic groups are included in the ratio's data. Sex ratios vary greatly by age: Males tend to outnumber females at younger ages, but have a higher mortality rate so that by the age of 50 and up, women typically outnumber men. The ratio may or may not include children or non-permanent residents such as students and temporary workers.
What US states have the highest sex ratios (most men per 100 women)?
In countries such as the United States, male to female ratios per state may be measured.
- Alaska — 109/100
- North Dakota — 105/100
- Wyoming — 104/100
- South Dakota — 102/100
- Utah — 101/100
What US states have the lowest sex ratios (fewest men per 100 women)?
- Alabama — 94/100
- Delaware — 94/100
- Maryland — 94/100
- Massachusetts — 94/100
- Mississippi — 94/100
Why Do Sex Ratios Vary By State?
There are a number of reasons why the ratio of males to females might vary from place to place. For example, employment opportunities in a certain area may be more appealing to one gender or another—case in point: Alaska has a plethora or rugged, physical jobs such as lumberjack and crab fisherman and also boasts the country's highest male-to-female sex ratio.