Friday, April 10, 2009

China's Looming Male/Female Ratio Disaster

I've talked about the ticking time bomb that is China's male/female a number of times on my blog before. There is some fresh data today that highlights just how big of a problem it is.

From AFP:

PARIS (AFP) — Selective abortion in favor of males has left China with 32 million more boys than girls, creating an imbalance that will endure for decades, an investigation released on Friday warned.

The probe provides ammunition for those experts who predict China's obsession with a male heir will sow a bitter fruit as men facing a life of bachelorhood fight for a bride.

"Although some imaginative and extreme solutions have been suggested, nothing can be done now to prevent this imminent generation of excess men," says the paper, published online by the British Medical Journal (BMJ).

In most countries, males slightly outnumber females -- between 103 and 107 male births for every 100 female births.

But in China and other Asian countries, the sex ratio has widened sharply as the traditional preference for boys is reinforced by the availability of cheap ultrasound diagnostics and abortion.

This has enabled Chinese couples to use pregnancy termination to prevent a female birth, a practice that is officially condemned as well as illegal.

In China, an additional factor has been the "one-child" policy.

Read On
32,000,000 too many boys. Think about that number for a minute.

It's the population of the Netherlands and Chile, combined.

It's unfathomable to consider just how big of a problem this male/female ratio in China is.

The article goes on to say that the western autonomous regions (which are mostly ethnic minorities who are not strictly held to the old-child policy) are the only parts of China that have normalized male/female ratios. This seems to point to the one-child policy as the main cause of this problem.

China is heading more in the direction of relaxing its one-child policy.

Jackie told me recently that if she was to marry a Chinese boy who is an only child, then she'd be able to have two children. The reason is because Jackie is also an only child. Young Chinese adults, who were on the first generation to be affected by the one-child policy (which went into effect in 1979), can have more than one child if their parents observed the law.

Modifying some rules of the one child policy does not mean that there is going to be a large-scale reform of the law though. In the spring of 2008, there was some speculation about that possibly happening.

From The Associated Press on March 2, 2008:
BEIJING (AP) — China may consider changing its one-child policy because it has succeeded in helping to slow population growth in the past three decades, a Chinese official said Sunday.

The policy, launched in the 1970s, has produced "very good results," said Wu Jianmin spokesman for the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, an advisory body to parliament.

There would be an estimated 400 million more people in China without it, Wu said.

"The one-child policy was the only choice we had given the conditions when we initiated the policy," Wu told reporters at a news conference the day before the CPPCC convened for its annual session. However, he added, "when designing a policy we need to take into consideration the reality."

"So as things develop, there might be some changes to the policy and relevant departments are considering this," Wu said without giving a timeline or details on which departments would be involved.

Read On

Seeing international headlines that was China reconsidering its one-child policy appears to have spooked the Chinese policy makers. I say this because any thought about doing away with the policy was completely refuted in the press just a couple days later.

From The New York Times a week later on March 11, 2008:

BEIJING -- China's top population official has ruled out changing the country's one-child family planning policy for at least another decade, refuting speculation that officials were contemplating adjustments to compensate for mounting demographic pressures.

The official, Zhang Weiqing, minister of the State Population and Family Planning Commission, said China would not make any major changes to the overall family planning policy until an anticipated surge in births is expected to end roughly a decade from now.

"The current family planning policy, formed as a result of gradual changes in the past two decades, has proved compatible with national conditions," Zhang said in a front-page interview published Monday in China Daily, the country's official English-language newspaper.

"So it has to be kept unchanged at this time to ensure stable and balanced population growth."

Read On

It's pretty obvious that there isn't going to be any drastic change in the one-child policy, which one would seem justified in saying has helped cause this male/female crisis.

This lack of willingness to change official policy seems to support what I've suggested before - that a cultural shift in attitudes is going to have to be the solution here. As I wrote earlier this week, it appears as though things are getting better in terms of Chinese parents being accepting of having young girls, but the country still has a long ways to go in this regard.

No matter what happens now though, young children in China are facing an unbelievable demographic problem. The skewed male/female ratios go back more than a decade. So when the primary school-aged in China right now enter adulthood in about a decade, they're going to be in for tremendous cultural challenges.

Obviously, the tens of millions of men who can't find a wife are going to be affected greatly. But to think that it will only affect them is foolish, I think. All aspects of China's society are going to suffer at that time. I have to imagine that things like crime and violence will go up when there are millions upon millions of sexually frustrated Chinese men stuck in a rut.

I'll feel bad for all Chinese people when these problems start to arise. But at the same time, the country as a whole will be reaping what its sowed. The one child policy is a draconian measure.

In the coming decade, disastrous planning mixed with a, widespread, awful attitude towards having girls as children are going to lead to an unprecedentedly large cultural crisis with no solution or treatment for China and its people.


Taylor O said...

I believe the colloquialism "sausage fest" applies at the macro level too.

Matthew said...

It can definitely cause some serious societal problems in the near future--I'm thinking a significant rise in aggressive, violent behavior in cities.

Maybe more women from Western countries will start moving to China to find husbands. Or they'll start advertising mail-order husbands from China.

Anonymous said...

I think China's brothels are going to be booming.

Anonymous said...

This is also a looming problem that I cannot believe hasn't been given more attention. Unless China can make the 'Stepford Wives' a reality, then the only solution is for those millions of excess men to import women from poorer countries who are looking for financial security. Of course not all of those excess men will be able to offer. The age differences will prevent any quick short term solutions. Seems to me about a decade or two ago the policy should have been changed to a 'one son' policy so that a family could have as many girls that came along, but had to stop when the magical boy arrived.

Thomas said...

This whole thing reminds me of something I've observed in Germany:

We have a large Chinese student population, and there are lively Chinese language internet forums .

Apparently, a significant number of female Chinese students here have Western boyfriends, whereas male Chinese students usually find it hard to attract Western girls.

As a consequence of the resulting "girl shortage", there's quite a bit of frustrated, hate-filled forum posting directed at Chinese women with Western partners. That the women are "betraying" their roots and should be ostracized, that only "ugly and stupid" women would do such a thing, etc.

Fenqing stuff at its worst.

Anonymous said...

i completely agree, i am actually doing a paper on the 'one child policy' and its present and future affects on the world. the information i have found is outstanding and mind blowing.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous @ 3:32 PM,

Don't forget to include the kind of war possible with China's 32 million extra males in your paper.

Actually, it will probably be in everyone's paper one day.

Cheap Generic Viagra said...

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Anonymous said...

Everyone nowadays stupidly believes that there are more females than males. But the truth is that most of these females are over 40 and fast approaching menopause. With that in mind, the remaining females of reproductive age are vastly outnumbered by males. China is the greatest example of this problem, but it is also a global problem and effects the rest of the world. According to my research, 700,000 men in the United States will not have a female partner. Fact is, the only and I mean only country that is making females is Africa. Would Chinese men have to married African women in order to have a family? Or would altering their ethnicity be too trifling to partake? All I know is that men are generally antisocial and if you have alot of them...well...they will likely go to war, and that is pretty dire concept.