Sex ratio


The sex ratio of a population is defined as the ratio of males to females and is usually expressed as the number of men per 100 women thus a ratio of less than 100 means that women outnumber men and vice versa. The results of the National Population and Housing Census of 2005 reported a sex ratio of 99.3 men per 100 women showing that in the Lao PDR the male-female ratio is almost balanced.

Two maps on sex ratios are presented: Map B.6 shows the general distribution of the total population of the Lao PDR in terms of the sex ratio throughout the country and on the next page, Map B.7 shows the sex ratio of children of less than 5 years old. This snapshot is representative of the sex ratio at birth and so it is not influenced by migration or life expectancy, etc. By comparing these two maps and observing changes from the situation at birth to that of the overall population, we can get a good indication of gender segregated migration patterns and other factors influencing the presence of men and women in certain places during a lifetime.

The sex ratios on both maps are presented in five classes from the lowest of 80 men per 100 women to the highest of more than 120 men per 100 women. The violet areas show villages where more women than men live, while the green areas show villages with more men than women.

Each class of the sex ratio is found throughout each part of the country with only small differences. The background of this map is predominantly yellow indicating the prevalence of almost balanced ratios. Travelling from Khammuane southwards, there is a strong scattering of violet coloured areas representing a male deficit of between 81 to 95 men per 100 women. The central provinces have areas below the 96 to 105 ratio but equally there are areas with a male surplus in the range of 106 to 120. Rural areas in the provinces of Bokeo, Luangnamtha and Oudomxay are significantly male deficient while in the northern part of Luangprabang and continuing on throughout Phongsaly there are many districts with an excess of males.

Only in the northeast of Vientiane and continuing into Xienkhuang do we find areas with higher imbalances amounting to over 120 males per 100 females.
Given that from Map B.7 no consistent spatial pattern of sex ratios at birth can be identified, the imbalances on the map indicate that important external processes influence the presence of men and women in different villages of the Lao PDR. We may assume that these gender imbalances may in general be attributed to gender specific migration patterns. On the one hand we can imagine that more men than women emigrate from remote villages to the proximity of urban centres. Yet, it is hard to find the corresponding surplus of men in these areas. The green spots indicate that these men might also migrate to other rural areas, where perhaps job opportunities are available with mine companies, agriculture, or the government. An inverse migration of women and their families must also be considered, be it for work, better health services, schools or all of these reasons.
The losses of males during the wars of independence should be less and less significant but may still play a role. The UXO Lao Mine Clearing Program is still continuing and loss of limbs or lives still occurs in large areas when landless people work mine-contaminated land.




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