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What percentage of the world is female?

Determining the percentage of the global population that is female is an important demographic measurement. The male to female ratio has implications for population growth, economic participation, and gender equality. Globally, females make up approximately half of the world’s population. However, this ratio varies significantly by region and country.

Worldwide Gender Ratio

According to estimates from the United Nations, as of 2020, there are 7.8 billion people in the world. Of these, 3.9 billion are male and 3.9 billion are female.[1] This results in a global gender ratio of 102 males to 100 females. Therefore, the percentage of the world that is female is 49.36%.

This ratio has remained relatively stable over the past several decades. In 1990, 49.7% of the world’s population was female. In 2018, this figure was 49.6%. However, the ratio varies greatly in different parts of the world.

Gender Ratio by Region

Here is a breakdown of the male to female ratio by major world region as of 2020:[2]

Region Male to Female Ratio Percent Female
World 102:100 49.36%
Africa 102:100 49.51%
Asia 105:100 48.78%
Europe 96:100 51.02%
Latin America and the Caribbean 98:100 50.51%
Northern America 97:100 50.77%
Oceania 101:100 49.75%

As the table shows, the regions with the highest percentage of females are Europe (51.02%) and Northern America (50.77%). In Asia, women make up only 48.78% of the population. The male to female ratio in Asia is skewed due to factors like a cultural preference for male children and access to sex-selective abortion in some countries.

Countries With the Most Skewed Gender Ratios

While the natural human sex ratio at birth is commonly assumed to be around 105 males born for every 100 females,[3] many countries have ratios that diverge significantly from this norm due to cultural factors and government policies. Here are some examples of countries with highly skewed male to female population ratios:

  • China – 105 males per 100 females
  • India – 108 males per 100 females
  • Pakistan – 108 males per 100 females
  • Afghanistan – 108 males per 100 females
  • Azerbaijan – 116 males per 100 females

In countries such as India and China, a cultural preference for sons over daughters has led to sex-selective abortion and female infanticide, tipping the gender balance toward males. However, in the Caucasus nations of Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia, the imbalance is instead mainly driven by male migration for work opportunities. This leaves more women in the country.

Gender Imbalance at Birth vs. Across Lifespans

It’s important to note the difference between the gender ratio at birth versus the ratio across age groups and total population. Worldwide, the natural sex ratio at birth is estimated to average 103-107 males born for every 100 females.[4]

However, higher female mortality rates and differences in life expectancy shift the ratio as the population ages. Men tend to have higher mortality at all ages due to risk factors like cardiovascular disease, accidents, violence, and smoking.[5] As a result, the gender gap closes slightly across the lifespan worldwide.

Here’s a comparison of the male to female ratio at birth versus across total population for some sample countries:

Country Sex Ratio at Birth Overall Population Sex Ratio
United States 105:100 97:100
Mexico 105:100 95:100
China 117:100 105:100
Egypt 103:100 102:100
France 106:100 96:100

The table demonstrates how sex ratios at birth can overestimate the true male to female imbalance in a population. However, in countries like China and India, the imbalance persists across age groups due to the large number of “missing women” from selective abortion.

Projections for the Future

According to projections from the United Nations, the global share of women is expected to reach 50.5% by 2050 and 51.1% by 2100.[1] This slow shift is driven by longer female life expectancy compared to men.

Here are some key projections about the female percentage of the world population:

  • The number of women is projected to exceed the number of men in 2055.
  • By 2050, there will be 3.9 billion men and 4.0 billion women globally.
  • By 2100, the world will have 5.3 billion male inhabitants and 5.9 billion female inhabitants.
  • Africa is the only world region where women are not projected to surpass men in population before 2100.

While the global share of women is expected to slowly rise, trends will continue to vary across different countries and cultures. Factors such as life expectancy, gender bias, and migration patterns will impact whether individual nations see their percentage female decline or grow.

Factors Influencing Gender Ratios

Many interlocking factors shape the male to female balance of populations. Here are some of the key determinants of gender ratios around the world:

Sex Ratio at Birth

– The natural sex ratio at birth is biologically driven, with normal variability. The global average is 103-107 male births per 100 female births.[4]

Mortality Rates

– Women tend to have lower mortality at all ages after birth. This means they have higher life expectancy than men on average.[5]

Gender-Biased Sex Selection

– In some cultures, there is a strong preference for male offspring. Advances in prenatal sex detection and induced abortion have enabled selective abortion of female fetuses.[6] This shifts sex ratios at birth.


– In some historical times and places, female infanticide was practiced out of preference for sons. This has led to uneven sex ratios.[7]


– Male-dominated migration, such as for work, can impact gender ratios. Emigration and immigration patterns influence populations.[8]

War and Violence

– Young adult male mortality due to violence, militarism, and war reduces male/female ratios post-birth.[9]

Life Expectancy

– The gender gap in life expectancy, favoring women, grows wider as mortality declines overall.[10]


– Certain diseases with gendered mortality bias can shift sex ratios. For example, COVID-19 has caused more male deaths overall.[11]

Income and Development

– Higher socioeconomic development is correlated to gender ratio balance. Poverty and lack of education skew ratios.[12]


The percentage of the global population that is female stands at 49.36% as of 2020. This ratio has remained relatively steady over time. However, the balance varies greatly across different world regions and countries due to socioeconomic, cultural, and political factors. While men outnumber women in some nations like China and India, women outnumber men in many Western countries. Projections suggest the world as a whole will slowly become more female in the coming decades. However, exact trends will be shaped by complex determinants like sex selection, migration, violence, and healthcare access. The gender makeup of populations has far-reaching intergenerational impacts across societies. Monitoring and understanding these gender ratios is vital for policymakers working to create more just and equitable societies worldwide.