The PRC government’s “one child” policy, combined with a cultural assumption that everybody needs a son, had led to a gender imbalance, a severe shortage of women. There are now about 120 boys for every 100 girls. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/5953508
What will be the social effects of this? Of millions of men facing limited marriage prospects? What will they use as a sexual outlet? (The government is also very much down on homosexuality.) Will frustration make them dangerous? Prone to crime or rebellion?
Is there any solution? Can China export its surplus males and/or import foreign females? The government could simply abandon the “one child” policy, but it would take time for the gender balance to be restored. Perhaps too much time.
There was an article on the effects of gender imbalance in Scientific American last year, though I don’t remember which issue. The gist of it is that a large surplus of young males is always bad in many ways. It leads to poor economic conditions, high crime, and a general lack of social stability. In effect, men who are unable to have a long-term relationship with a woman are more likely to have crummy jobs and become criminals. (This is not true of men who choose to avoid a relationship with a women, only of men who are forced to remain single by the social system.)
It’s well understood that a surpluss of unmarried men (especially young men) will cause the crime rate to increase. Perhaps this will aid the Party since it will make people crave law and order-- something a strong, authoritarian regime is often better at delivering than a democratic one. Given the size of the Chinese population, I don’t see any way to solve the root problem in the short term, but the government has instituted several policies to incentivize (to use the government’s term) parents to want girl children.
Yeah, but those are intelligent, successful men with excellent long-term earning prospects. THOSE men may move to Europe or the USA for a number of reasons, but they wouldn’t have any problems finding women in China. It’s the blue-collar unemployed or underemployed males in China who are going to be out of luck. And there are going to be tens of millions of those.
As Canadian conservative columnist Mark Steyn puts it, China may have to become the first gay superpower since Sparta!
It’s not just China, either. Abortion for sex selection has been common in India for some time, and the gender imbalance is notable there, too. That’s already had interesting results. The caste system had already be declining, but gender imbalance has completely destroyed it. To put it simply, a proud Brahmin family that once would have insisted on a proper Brahmin bride for their eldest son is now in no position to be choosy. Girls are in short supply, and those girls can be very selective. If young Vijay is able to get a girl from the grocer caste, he now considers himself lucky.
And the gender imbalance is not the only problem- in the long run, it may not even be the worst. People speak of Chinese overpopulation as if the overpopulation problem were spread evenly through all age groups. Not so! There are a LOT more elderly Chinese than young Chinese, and the percentages will be far more lopsided before long.
The CHinese government will soon be faced with tens of millions of impoverished young males who have no hope of ever finding women… and it will have to demand that those young men fork over most of their small incomes to take care of the huge population of Chinese retirees.
You gotta wonder. My wife and I are currently researching any and all family-building options, and adoption from China is one of the most orderly and sought-after. A conservative estimate puts the percentage of girls reliquished for adoption at around 95%. Virtually all the boys being adopted have some obvious birth defect. At a conference someone mentioned a book, China’s Lost Daughters, which we will probably pick up. I’ve asked my colleagues at work about it, and the response was rather surprising: They insist the statistics are made up by propagandists in the US govt. to paint yet another negative picture of China. It’s generally believed that if the Maoists achieved anything worthwhile, it was instilling a sense of need for sexual equality, etc. It’s really quite amazing.
Another shocking story was told by a group of mothers of adopted Chinese girls who had attempted to retain a bridge between their daughters adoptive culture and the culture of their birth, by enrolling their children in weekend Chinese schools that dot the Boston and Providence suburbs. All of them had the same experience: Their daughters were ostracized, often subjected to humiliating abuse by the teachers, who were always women, and taunted mercilessly by the other children. Some of the offending children cited their parents’ derision of these rejected girls as justification for their cruelty.
When I was considering getting a tarantula as a pet, I found that most people want females because they are larger and live much longer. Which means there’s a shortage of male tarantulas for breeding, and therefore a big demand for fully grown males. This hasn’t changed the fact that most people want female tarantulas.