This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 12th (it came out in 2015), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

If you are a user of my textbook and would like to suggest a blog post idea, please email me at: john.weeks@sdsu.edu

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Can China and India Handle Their Excess of Males?

The Washington Post has created a very good--and visually entertaining!--story about the problems that China and India face as a result of their unbalanced sex ratios. In both cases, the societal preference for males over females has combined with ultrasound technology that can identify the sex of a fetus which can then lead to sex-selective abortion. In the old days, infanticide was the only way to handle this issue, but the new methods make it vastly easier to have a son rather than a daughter.
The consequences of having too many men, now coming of age, are far-reaching: Beyond an epidemic of loneliness, the imbalance distorts labor markets, drives up savings rates in China and drives down consumption, artificially inflates certain property values, and parallels increases in violent crime, trafficking or prostitution in a growing number of locations.
Out of China’s population of 1.4 billion, there are nearly 34 million more males than females — the equivalent of almost the entire population of California, or Poland, who will never find wives and only rarely have sex. China’s official one-child policy, in effect from 1979 to 2015, was a huge factor in creating this imbalance, as millions of couples were determined that their child should be a son.
India, a country that has a deeply held preference for sons and male heirs, has an excess of 37 million males, according to its most recent census. The number of newborn female babies compared with males has continued to plummet, even as the country grows more developed and prosperous. The imbalance creates a surplus of bachelors and exacerbates human trafficking, both for brides and, possibly, prostitution. Officials attribute this to the advent of sex-selective technology in the last 30 years, which is now banned but still in widespread practice.
So, what to do about this problem? In China there is a booming business devoted to bringing in brides from neighboring nations, but those countries do not have an excess of females over males, so that is not a societal solution. There is no clear way to make up the difference without "stealing" women from other countries. This is a generation that will work its way through the age structure coping with the imbalance. My view is that in the short-term societal resources are going to have to be devoted to creating new attitudes and activities that allow unmarried men to feel integrated into society. In that process, the societal preference for sons needs to be seriously revisited and revised so that the future sex ratio is more balanced--as the UNPopulation Division assumes will happen in its projections for these countries. These things obviously won't happen easily...we're in for a rough ride.

3 comments:

  1. On UK, migration, and Brexit. FYI: https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/news/cabinet-split-over-amber-rudd-s-handling-of-immigration-bill-l9fz78b86

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  2. "So, what to do about this problem? In China there is a booming business devoted to bringing in brides from neighboring nations, but those countries do not have an excess of females over males"
    Russia has more women than men, especially in older age groups (30 y.o. and older).

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    1. https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/c8/Russian_population_sex_by_age_%28demographic_pyramid%29_as_on_jan_01%2C_2018.png

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