When will the problem of gender imbalance reach a critical stage in China?
“The big troubles will hit by the late 2020s, when around 15-20% of men of marriageable age won’t have a female counterpart. This will remain the case until roughly 2045—and maybe beyond, if sex selection isn’t curbed soon.” – Maya Hvistendahl in Shanghaiist interview
From the youtube (here):
Thanks mainly to sex selective abortion, there are over 160 million females missing from Asia's population and an unknown number missing from other continents. Here, Mara Hvistendahl '02 examines how this gap is transforming communities, leading to everything from a spike in bride-buying to an increase in crime — and details how the West played a role in sparking this global problem.
Hvistendahl is a Beijing-based correspondent for Science Magazine and the author of Unnatural Selection: Choosing Boys Over Girls, and the Consequences of a World Full of Men (2011). Her award-winning writing has been published in Harper's, Scientific American, Popular Science, The Financial Times, and Foreign Policy. She has appeared as a commentator on NPR, MSNBC, and the BBC, and taught journalism at Fudan University in Shanghai.
From the Shanghaiist interview with Mara Hvistendahl (here):
Is the Chinese government aware of the issue, and is there anything they're doing to address it? Is the problem even solvable in real terms?
The Chinese government is completely aware of the issue. Reports of sex selection happening in the wake of the one-child policy being introduced first emerged in the early 1980s. Wen Jiabao even mentioned the gender imbalance in his address at lianghui last week.
The government has made a few attempts to solve the problem. The Care for Girls program is one such effort. And both prenatal sex determination and sex selective abortion are outlawed. (They’re called “The Two Illegals.”) But with the one-child policy still in effect there isn’t a lot of political will behind enforcing the law.
Don't sugarcoat it. What's the worst case scenario for a society experiencing serious shortage of women for men of marrying age? And how likely is it that the worst case scenario would occur in China?
The commodification of women—through trafficking and bride buying—mixed with widespread social unrest. The U.S. State Department already lists the sex ratio imbalance in China as a cause of trafficking in Asia. And young unmarried men are responsible for a disproportionate share of violence and crime.
Do you personally extend any sympathies towards men who would buy a wife from impoverished backgrounds, or engage in other forms of human trafficking to address the lack of women in their communities? What about women who complain of there not being enough decent men in China to date or marry?
I interviewed a few men who had bought wives, and I found myself sympathizing with some of them. At the end of the day they just want what most people in the world take for granted: the opportunity to find a partner. And in some cases they are pressured into buying a wife by their families.
As for the complaint about decent men: no offense to men, but that’s a complaint of women the world over. In New York and Seoul as well as Shanghai, educated professional women increasingly outnumber educated professional men.
But when you look at the overall population in China and many other countries, there are millions of more men than women. It’s just that many of them live in places like Anhui.