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Why are there more boys than girls?

Most parents-to-be assume that the sex of their child

to assume - предполагать, принимать

comes down to a flip of the chromosomal coin,

flip - кувырок, сальто
coin - монета

with an equal chance of having a boy or girl.

But in reality, the odds aren’t even.

odds - шансы, перевес
even - равны, равные

For every 100 girls born,

the world gains about 106 baby boys.

to gain - получать, набирать

Currently, that skewed sex ratio comes out to roughly 10 million more baby boys

to skew - перекосить, искажать, отклонять
roughly - примерно, приблизительно
ratio - соотношение, отношение, коэффициент

than girls born worldwide each year.

worldwide - мировой, всемирный

There are some countries where human meddling stacks the odds even higher in favor of boys,

meddling - навязчивый, надоедливый
to stack - укладывать, складывать, громоздить
in favor - в пользу (favor - одолжение, благосклонность, расположение)

but that doesn’t explain the fixed odds everywhere else.

The intrinsic boy/girl ratio is rigged by Mother Nature.

intrinsic - внутренний, присущий, свойственный
rigged - сфальсифициронный (to rig - мошеничать)

In fact, it’s even more rigged than birth rates show

- human conception results in about 150 male zygotes

conception - зачатие; концепция, представление

for every 100 females!

But there’s a rather tragic reason for this big biological boy-bias early on:

male fetuses are much more likely to be miscarried

fetus - плод, зародыш, эмбрион
miscarry - выкидыш

or stillborn than female fetuses,

stillborn - мертворожденный

and boys that do make out of the womb

womb - матка, чрево, лоно

suffer more fatal diseases,

to suffer - страдать, терпеть, испытывать, вытерпеть
fatal - фатальный, роковой, смертельный
disease - болезнь, заболевание

take more mortal risks,

mortal - смертный, смертельный

and fall prey to more violence than girls.

fall prey to - стать жертвой
violence - насилие, жестокость

So by the time kids grow up and reach baby-making age,

to grow up - вырастать, вырасти
to reach - достигнуть, достигать, доходить

the ratio of males to females is just about 1 to 1.

But the likelihood of a boy even making it to birth

likelihood - вероятность

is also influenced by his mom’s living conditions during pregnancy.

to influence - влиять, оказывать влияние
pregnancy - беременность

For example, when a massive famine struck China in the early 1960s,

famine - голод, голодание
to strike - бить, ударять

the relative likelihood of having a son suddenly dropped

suddenly - внезапно, вдруг

- until the famine ended.

And male Americans born to billionaires

seem to have higher than average odds of fathering sons.

average - средний

Somehow, female biology suppresses boys’ survival in the womb during tough times

survival - выживание, выживаемость
tough - трудный, жесткий, тяжелый

and boosts it when times are good.

to boost - повышать, подниматься

We’ve seen the same pattern in other mammals, too:

pattern - шаблон, патерн
mammal - млекопетающее

when resources are scarce,

scarce - дефицитный, скудный, редкий, недостаточный

mothers give birth to fewer males than normal;

fewer - меньше

when resources are plentiful, they bear more.

plentiful - обильный, богатый, изобильный

The best explanation we have for this has to do with sex

explanation - объяснение, разъяснение

- the other kind.

In biological terms,

the whole goal of copulation is to reproduce

goal - цель
copulation - совокупление, спаривание
to reproduce - воспроизводить, размножаться

- to pass down your genes to someone who will someday pass them on again.

to pass - передавать, проходить, переходить, пропускать

Female offspring are almost guaranteed to reproduce,

offspring - потомство, потомок, отпрыск

famine or no famine,

because male mammals are pretty much always willing to mate.

to mate - спариваться

Males, on the other hand, have to compete for mating privileges

to compete - конкурировать, соревноваться

- a well-nurtured hunk has a good chance of mating with lots of females,

while a male weakened by famine might not score at all.

to weaken - ослаблять, слабеть

So male offspring are a bigger risk in general

- at all stages they’re more likely to die,

and even if they live they might not reproduce.

But when times are good,

boys potential to father lots and lots of babies

make them a biological risk worth taking.