Prevalence of circumcision
The prevalence of circumcision is the percentage of males in a given population who have been circumcised. The rates vary widely by country, from virtually 0% in Honduras, to 7% in Spain, to 20% in the United Kingdom, to 45% in South Africa, to 80% in the United States, to over 90% in many Muslim-majority countries. In 2007, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimated 33% of adult males worldwide (aged 15+) are circumcised, with about two-thirds of those being Muslims.
- 1 Overview
- 2 Africa
- 3 The Americas
- 4 Asia
- 5 Europe
- 6 Oceania
- 7 See also
- 8 References
- 9 External links
Male circumcision is nearly universal in the Muslim world and in Israel due to the religious beliefs of the majority of Muslims and Jews; however, some non-Muslim groups living within Muslim-majority countries, such as Armenians and Assyrians, do not practise it. It is prevalent in some Muslim-majority countries in southeast Asia such as Indonesia and Malaysia; however, the WHO states that there is "little non-religious circumcision in Asia, with the exceptions of the Republic of Korea and the Philippines". In parts of Africa it is often practised as part of tribal or religious customs. The prevalence of circumcision is also high in the United States, although there has been a slight (~6%) decrease in routine neonatal circumcision in recent years.
Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand and the United Kingdom are examples of countries that have seen a decline in male circumcision in recent decades, while there have been indications of increasing demand in southern Africa, partly for preventive reasons due to the HIV epidemic there.
Studies indicate that about 62% of African males are circumcised. However, the rate varies widely between different regions, and among ethnic and religious groups, with Muslim North Africans practising it for religious reasons, central Africans as part of tribal rituals or local custom, (with some practising female genital mutilation as well) and some traditionally non-circumcising populations in the South recently adopting the practice due to measures by the World Health Organisation to prevent AIDS. Williams, B.G. et al. commented that: "Most of the currently available data on the prevalence of [male circumcision] are several decades old, while several of the recent studies were carried out as adjuncts to demographic and health surveys and were not designed to determine the prevalence of [male circumcision]."
|Williams et al
|Morris et al|
|Central African Republic||20–80||67||63|
|Republic of the Congo||>80||70||70|
|Democratic Republic of the Congo||>80||70||97.2|
Less than 20%
Between 20% and 80%
It is estimated that 44.7% of males are circumcised in South Africa. One national study reported that 48.2% of black Africans were circumcised, with 32.1% of those traditionally circumcised and 13.4% circumcised for medical reasons.
More than 80%
Benin, Burkin Faso, Cameroon, Congo (Dem Rep), Cote d’Ivoire, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Togo.
Less than 20%
Argentina, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Puerto Rico, The Bahamas, Trinidad and Tobago, Uruguay, Venezuela.
The overall prevalence of circumcision is reported to be 6.9% in Colombia, and 7.4% in Brazil (13% in Rio de Janeiro), with most of those being done due to medical issues later in life.
The prevalence of circumcision in Mexico is estimated to be 10% to 31%.
Between 20% and 80%
Circumcision in Canada followed the pattern that existed in other English speaking countries, picking up the practice during the 1900s to prevent masturbation and other perceived issues of the time, and then had its rate of circumcision decline due to new policy statements passed and due to coverage for the procedure being dropped, with a pattern of declining incidence of circumcision occurring from 1970 to 1979 after a new policy statement was released In 1975. The Canadian Paediatric Society offered an estimate of 48 percent for the prevalence of male circumcision in Canada in 1970 prior to this fall in prevalence. However, when conducting new studies to determine is prevalence in 1977-1978 There was a wide variation in the incidence of circumcision between different provinces and territories. For Example, Yukon reported a rate of 74.8 percent in while Newfoundland reported an incidence of 1.9 to 2.4 percent in 1977-78. The rate continued to drop, with the newborn circumcision rate in Ontario In 1994-95 dropping to 29.9%.
A survey of Canadian maternity practices conducted in 2006/2007 and published in 2009 by the national public health agency found a newborn circumcision rate of 31.9%. Rates varied markedly across the country, from close to zero in Newfoundland and Labrador to 44.3% in Alberta. In 2015, the Canadian Paediatric Society used those statistics in determining their national circumcision rate, with that being the one which is currently used.
|Newfoundland and Labrador||*|
|Prince Edward Island||39.2|
|* Numerator too small for rate calculation|
|Source: Canadian Maternity Experiences Survey|
The Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) uses two data sources to track circumcision rates. The first is the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), which records circumcisions performed at any time at any location. The second is the National Hospital Discharge Survey (NHDS), which does not record circumcisions performed outside the hospital setting or those performed at any age following discharge from the birth hospitalization.
Based off NHANES data, the CDC estimated that 80.5% of American males aged 14 to 59 years old from 2005 to 2010 were circumcised. Among racial breakdown, 90.8% of non-Hispanic white males, 75.7% of non-Hispanic black, and 44% of Mexican American males from that same age group and time span were circumcised.
Based off NHDS data, the CDC reported a national decline in circumcision rates of newborns, from 64.5% to 58.3%, during the 32-year period from 1972 to 2010. Trends varied regionally, with the Midwest mirroring the national trend; in the Northeast there was no discernible trend in the 32-year period; the South experienced an increase in circumcision rates from 1979 until 1998 and then a decline until 2010; finally, the West saw a decrease of 37% during the period in question, with the biggest drop happening in the 1980's, continuing with a slower decrease until 2010. The decline is in large part due to the growing Hispanic population. It is increasingly common due do increasing health care costs that health care providers require the mother and baby to leave the hospital within 24 hours after birth without complications. As a result, a large number of circumcisions are performed in out-patient clinics and are not recorded in the NHDS data.
In 2009, the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP) reported its findings regarding newborn circumcisions based on U.S. region and income bracket. Its data came from several states' hospital associations and health departments. The Western Region reported a rate of 24.6%, the North Central Region reported a rate of 76.2%, the Northeast Region reported a rate of 67%, and the Southern Region reported a rate of 55.7%. The combined newborn circumcision rate of all regions was 54.5%, which is similar but slightly lower than the NHDS data from 2010. There was also significant variation between rural and urban areas. Rural areas reported a rate of 66.9%, while urban areas reported a rate of 41.2%. The lowest income bracket reported a rate of 51.5%, while the highest income bracket reported a rate of 60.4%.
Medicaid funding for infant circumcision used to be available in every state, but starting with California in 1982, 18 states (Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Louisiana, Maine, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oregon, South Carolina, Utah, and Washington) had eliminated Medicaid coverage of routine (non-therapeutic) circumcision by July 2011. One study in the Midwest of the U.S. found that this had no effect on the newborn circumcision rate but it did affect the demand for circumcision at a later time. Another study, published in early 2009, found a difference in the neonatal male circumcision rate of 24% between states with and without Medicaid coverage. The study was controlled for other factors such as the percentage of Hispanic patients. Other studies have shown that the rise of immigrants from East Asia, Southeast Asian, South Asia and Hispanic South American countries are a large factor in why the rates continue to drop in the US.
Circumcision was the second-most common procedure performed on patients under one year of age. There are various explanations for why the infant circumcision rate in the United States is different from comparable countries. Many parents’ decisions about circumcision are preconceived, which may contribute to the high rate of elective circumcision. Brown & Brown (1987) reported the most important factor is whether the father is circumcised.
Less than 20%
The overall prevalence of circumcision in Cambodia is reported to be 3.5%.
The overall prevalence of circumcision in China is reported to be 14%.
Between 60% and 80%
Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Pakistan and South Korea.
Circumcision is largely a modern-day phenomenon in South Korea. While the rate in the twentieth century has been nearing 80%, virtually no circumcision was performed just a century ago, as it was against Korea's long and strong tradition of preserving the body as a gift from parents. A 2001 study of 20-year-old South Korean men found that 78% were circumcised. At the time, the authors commented that "South Korea has possibly the largest absolute number of teenage or adult circumcisions anywhere in the world. Because circumcision started through contact with the American military during the Korean War, South Korea has an unusual history of circumcision." According to a 2002 study, 86.3% of South Korean males aged 14–29 were circumcised. In 2012, it's the case of 75.8% of the same age group. Only after 1999 has some information against circumcision become available (at the time of the 2012 study, only 3% of Korean internet sites, using the most popular Korean search engine Naver, are against indiscriminate circumcision and 97% are for). The authors of the study speculate "that the very existence of information about the history of Korean circumcision, its contrary nature relative to a longstanding tradition, its introduction by the US military, etc., has been extremely influential on the decision-making process regarding circumcision."
More than 80%
Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Brunei, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Oman, Israel, West Bank, the Philippines, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, United Arab Emirates, Yemen.
Less than 20%
Armenia, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Spain, Serbia, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, and the United Kingdom.
A national survey on sexual attitudes in 2000 found that 15.8% of men or boys in the United Kingdom (ages 16–44) were circumcised by their parents' choosing. 11.7% of 16- to 19-year-olds, and 19.6% of 40- to 44-year-olds said they had been circumcised. Apart from black Caribbeans, men born overseas were more likely to be circumcised. Rickwood et al. reported that the proportion of English boys circumcised for medical reasons had fallen from 35% in the early 1930s to 6.5% by the mid-1980s. An estimated 3.8% of male children in the UK in 2000 were being circumcised by the age of 15. The researchers stated that too many boys, especially under the age of 5, were still being circumcised because of a misdiagnosis of phimosis. They called for a target to reduce the percentage to 2%.
In Finland, the overall prevalence of circumcision is 2-4%, according to a recent publication by the Finnish Health Ministry.
In Germany, the German Health Interview and Examination Survey for Children and Adolescents found that 10.9% of boys aged 0–17 had been circumcised.
In France, according to a telephone survey (TNS Sofres Institute, 2008), 14% of men are circumcised.
The overall prevalence of circumcision in Spain is reported to be 6.6%.
In 1986, 511 out of approximately 478,000 Danish boys aged 0–14 years were circumcised. This corresponds to a cumulative national circumcision rate of around 1.6% by the age of 15 years.
In Slovenia, a 1999-2001 national probability sample of the general population aged 18–49 years found that overall, 4.5% of Slovenian male citizens reported being circumcised. Prevalence strongly varied across religious groups, with 92.4% of Muslims being circumcised, 1.7% of Roman Catholics, 0% of other religious affiliations (Evangelic, Serbian Orthodox, other), and 7.1% of those with no religious affiliation.
Between 20% and 80%
Albania, Kosovo, Republic of Macedonia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
In Albania during the years 2008-09 the percentage of men age 15-49 who reported having been circumcised was 47.7%.
Andorra, Croatia and Luxembourg are listed as unknown on the WHO prevalence map. Liechtenstein, Malta, Monaco, San Marino and Vatican City are unclear from the map.
Circumcision reached its peak in Australia in the 1950s with a rate of more than 80%, but has steadily fallen to an estimated 26% in 2012. The rate of circumcision has dropped rapidly over the years. It is estimated that males aged at 35 and under are 80%+ uncircumcised while the remaining is circumcised. The uncircumcised male is very common now as young fathers are starting to have children of their own and leaving them intact. 
The Australian Longitudinal Study of Health and Relationships is a computer assisted telephone interview of males aged 16–64 that uses a nationally representative population sample. In 2005 the interview found that the prevalence of circumcision in Australia was roughly 58%. Circumcision status was more common with males over 30 than males under 30, and more common with males who were born in Australia. 66% of males born in Australia were circumcised and less than 1/3 of males under 30 were circumcised. There has been a decline in the rate of infant circumcision in Australia. The Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP) estimated in 2010 that 10 to 20 percent of newborn boys are being circumcised, but the prevalence of male circumcision is much higher due to the presence of older circumcised males remaining in the population. Medicare Australia records show the number of males younger than six months that underwent circumcision dropped from 19,663 in 2007/08 to 6309 (4%) in 2016/17.
According to the World Health Organisation, fewer than 20% of males are circumcised in New Zealand in 2007. In New Zealand routine circumcision for which there is no medical indication is uncommon and no longer publicly funded within the public hospital system. In a study of men born in 1972–1973 in Dunedin, 40.2% were circumcised. In a study of men born in 1977 in Christchurch, 26.1% were circumcised. A 1991 survey conducted in Waikato found that 7% of male infants were circumcised.
- Male circumcision rates of 237 countries around the world
- Male circumcision
- Genital modification
- Prevalence of female genital cutting
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As a result, there are already indications of increasing demand for male circumcision in traditionally non-circumcising societies in Southern Africa.
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Circumcision is not usually performed by public sector health care providers in Mexico and we estimate the prevalence to be 10% to 31%, depending on the population.
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Circumcision for cultural reasons is routine in Pacific Island countries.
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