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What's happening to all of North Carolina's men?

RALEIGH -- When it comes to the balance of the sexes, North Carolina has long had a surplus of boys and a deficit of men.

Women in the state, like American women overall, give birth to more boys than girls, giving males a numerical edge that lasts into adulthood. Then, men begin dying off faster than women, making males a distinct minority in the state after middle age.

But for reasons that aren't easy to explain, the state's boy surfeit has shrunk and its man deficit has grown over the last decade, according to the newest numbers from the 2010 Census. Relatively fewer boys are being born, and the relative number of middle-age men has declined.

As a result, the age at which women begin to outnumber men has shifted younger. Now, there are more women than men in all age groups after age 25 in North Carolina, down from age 35 in 2000. Nationally, the crossover continues to happen at about age 35.

This shifting sex ratio reflects changes in a tangled mix of factors, including health, migration patterns and even social behaviors that affect men and women differently. Making it even messier, some things - migration, for instance - have an immediate effect, while others, such as health or social changes, can take decades to affect the ratio.

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