Sex Ratio and Community Size: Notes from the Northern Atlantic


In parts of the circumpolar North, smaller communities tend to have fewer young women than men. Among newcomer populations such as non-Natives in Alaska, this reflects disproportionate in-migration by young men seeking jobs on the frontier. Imbalances can also emerge, however, due to female outmigration from small villages—a pattern observed, for example, among the native populations of Alaska, Canada and Greenland. Several authors have linked female outmigration with socioeconomic change also in rural Finland, Norway and Ireland. This paper briefly examines plots of sex ratio versus community size in four northern Atlantic regions (Maine, Newfoundland, Iceland and Norway). We then look more closely at Norway, where the correlation between sex ratio and community size is strongest. Multiple regression suggests that economic factors, rather than community size as such, best explain this pattern. Specifically, the percent female among young adults tends to be lower in communities experiencing longterm population declines, dominated by fishing and other primary-industry employment, and having in consequence relatively few jobs for women. Further socioeconomic changes in many resource-dependent Atlantic communities seem inevitable as resources become depleted, and they also face the possibility of large-scale environmental change. When such changes occur, female outmigration could be an important component of the social response and individual-level adaption.



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Population and Environment



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