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“We as researchers have not been on top of this.” The tipping point in Sweden happened in March last year, when population statistics showed 277 more men than women. While that's still small in a population of almost 10 million, it's “not unreasonable” to suspect that Sweden will have a big male surplus in the future, said Tomas Johansson, a population expert at the national statistics agency, SCB.Despite a natural birth rate of about 105 boys born for every 100 girls, European women have historically outnumbered men because they live longer.
Tomas Sobotka, of the Vienna Institute of Demography, said in theory a male surplus could increase the bargaining power of women by allowing them to be choosier when picking a partner.Equality Minister Asa Regner, of the governing Social Democrats, twice turned down requests to be interviewed.The main opposition party, the center-right Moderates, also declined to comment.Norway swung to a male surplus in 2011, four years before Sweden, while Denmark and Switzerland are nearing a sex ratio of 100.Germany, which had an unnatural deficit of men after two world wars, has seen its sex ratio jump from 87 in 1960 to 96 last year.Eurostat projects the male-female gap will dip below 1 million in 2080.
But such projections are highly uncertain, as the Swedish example shows.
“Are people thinking about whether this could undermine the gains that have been made by Swedish women over the last 150 years? How many men there are in a population matters less than how much a society is shaped by “hyper-masculine” gender characteristics such as aggression and hierarchies where males are preferred, True said.
Annick Wibben, of the University of San Francisco, said gender equality is so “deeply embedded” in Swedish society that comparisons with China or India, where sex-selective abortions have resulted in unnatural surpluses of men, don't tell you much.
Statistics officials say Sweden's demographic shift is mainly due to men catching up with women in terms of life expectancy.
But the arrival in recent years of tens of thousands of unaccompanied teenage boys from Afghanistan, Syria and North Africa is also having a significant impact.
But they could also face an increased risk of harassment from frustrated males struggling to find a mate.