(BEIJING) -- The figures are in from China's 2010 census and the results are conclusive: China's gender imbalance is getting worse.
There were 118.08 males for every 100 females last year, up from 116.9 males for every 100 females in 2000, according to the 2010 census.
At the current rate, there will be 20 million more men than woman within the next couple of decades, officials said.
"The gender ratio imbalance can be attributed to multiple causes, including a traditional preference for sons, the practice of arranging for sons to take care of elderly parents, illegal sex-selective abortions and other factors," Deputy Minister of Health Liu Qian said at a news conference this week.
It has been 30 years since China introduced its one child policy, which restricts urban couples to having just one child. The government says that strict family planning has helped prevent roughly 400 million additional births.
While the policy has helped China rein in explosive population growth, it has brought a new set of problems with it. China's elderly population is expanding rapidly, while the younger labor force will start shrinking within a few years.
And then there's the gender imbalance, the result of a traditional preference for boys in China. Sex-selective abortion is a huge problem across the country but now authorities are cracking down.
Earlier this week, the government released its new "Outline for the Development of Chinese Children (2011-2020)" which says that steps should be taken to "eliminate discrimination against girls" and to promote gender equity.
"Using ultrasonic techniques to conduct non-medical sex determination" should be strictly prohibited, it says, adding that doctors who are discovered to be carrying out sex-selective abortions will have their licenses stripped.
Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio