Behavioural and biological determinants of human sex ratio at birth

J Biosoc Sci. 2010 Sep;42(5):587-99. doi: 10.1017/S002193201000012X. Epub 2010 Jun 3.


The human sex ratio SR (proportion male) at birth has been reported to vary with many variables. The explanation of this variation is not established, but I have hypothesized that it is partially caused by the hormonal concentrations of both parents around the time of conception. The present note suggests how this hypothesis might accommodate recent sex ratio findings relating to 'psychosexual restriction', female genital cutting, sexes of prior sibs, finger length ratios, the autism spectrum disorder, parental occupation and maternal eating disorders. Tests of such suggestions are offered, and it is hypothesized that: (a) in women, Manning's R (the ratio of the lengths of the 2nd and 4th digits) is positively correlated with offspring sex ratio (proportion male); (b) women who have undergone female genital cutting (FGC) have high androgen levels; (c) offspring sex ratio correlates positively with 'masculinity' of parental occupation, the correlation being mediated by testosterone levels. It is noted that the lines of evidence for three hypotheses (James', Manning's and Baron-Cohen's) are mutually supportive.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child Development Disorders, Pervasive
  • Child, Preschool
  • Circumcision, Female
  • Female
  • Fingers / anatomy & histology
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Masculinity
  • Occupations
  • Parents
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Ratio*
  • Statistics as Topic
  • Testosterone / blood
  • United Kingdom


  • Testosterone