Sex Ratios at Birth in African Populations: A Review of Survey Data

This study analyzes the distribution of sex ratio at birth in African populations using data collected in birth histories in sample demographic surveys (Demographic and Health Surveys and World Fertility Surveys). The average sex ratio from 56 surveys, totaling 1.130 million births, was 1.033 (95% CI, 1.029-1.037), significantly different from the world average of 1.055. The distribution of sex ratios across surveys was found to be heterogeneous, and different from what could have been expected from random fluctuations due to sample size. Three subsets were identified: a subset with lower sex ratios, primarily in countries of eastern and southern Africa of Bantu populations (1.010), a subset with average sex ratios (1.035), and a subset of countries with higher sex ratios, in particular Nigeria and Ethiopia (1.070). Further analysis revealed that African populations are as diverse as other populations, with sex ratios ranging from low values (below 1.00) to high values (above 1.08). Results are discussed in light of independent data sources and in comparison with other human populations.