Rants and Raves

Opinion, commentary, reviews of books, movies, cultural trends, and raising kids in this day and age.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

I'm back, and I've got an answer about China

I've been in Vancouver for a week at the Fraser Institute seminar/course on economics for journalists, a great experience on which I'll be blogging anon.

I came back to a depressingly empty house, as I evacuated my family after the sewer system in the city was breached by floodwaters. Limited use has been restored - but we're still using port-a-potties stationed on street corners.

Vancouver is a city set in the most staggeringly beautiful setting I've ever seen, which made it doubly hard to come back, but duty calls...

At any rate, during a dinner discussion on how China may, or may not be liberalizing due to the benign influence of market economics, I raised the question of whether it matters if the gender imbalance in China creates tremendous civilization-wrecking instability.

For years I have been trying to find data on what the gender imbalance caused by China's one-child policy is, since wa-a-a-ay before I started to see it in print.

Well, now there are some figures: around 32 million extra boys in China, and getting worse in the younger, not yet pubescent age groups.

If you go here: http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=1550484

you'll find an article by Therese Hesketh, a lecturer at the Centre for International Health and Development at University College London, and Qu Jian Ding: Family size, fertility preferences, and sex ratio in China in the era of the one child family policy: results from national family planning and reproductive health survey.

The conclusion is: Since the one child family policy began, the total birth rate and preferred family size have decreased, and a gross imbalance in the sex ratio has emerged.

The funny thing is, the article is from 2006, the article on MSNBC here: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/30155400/

is from a few weeks ago. Look around and you find the MSM seems to have noticed this just recently.

The MSNBC article seems to summarize the point of the more technical BMJ article reasonably well. Briefly, the gender imbalance in post-pubescent males is very bad now. It's going to get much worse over the next 10-15 years as more boys grow up and experience that volcanic hormonal surge we all remember so fondly.

Many media articles quote Hesketh thusly, "If you've got highly sexed young men, there is a concern that they will all get together and, with high levels of testosterone, there may be a real risk, that they will go out and commit crimes."

I don't know if this is an example of that charming British understatement, or just plain dense. These numbers are not just a recipe for a high crime rate, this is a portent of war, revolution, and chaos on a scale not seen since World War II.

Oh, and by the way, India may be experiencing the beginning of a similar gender imbalance for the same reason, a preference for sons expressed in sex-selective abortion and female infanticide.

Pleasant dreams!


  • At 12:30 PM, Blogger Ted said…

    If China really needs women maybe their government can convince and encourage some Mexican senoritas to illegally "immigrate" there.
    Just offer them everything they want for free - it's worked "wonders" in the U.S.
    It's the 15 beaneritos in tow that might be an issue (They seem to have this habit called "breeding like roaches" that should solve all of China's under-pop woes.

  • At 12:48 AM, Blogger Gerry said…

    If I were a citizen of one of China's neighboring countries, I would keep my daughters under close watch. My guess is that there will be lots of "disappearances" of young women from those countries in the future.

    And Ted: The 'beaneritos' comment is tasteless. Definitely not necessary.

  • At 6:39 AM, Blogger Steve Browne said…

    And actually, Mexico's fertility rate is 2.34, only slightly higher than the U.S. at 2.05, according to the CIA Factbook.

  • At 3:40 PM, Blogger trollsmyth said…

    I remember reading somewhere that China was improving it's railway lines towards the Indian border. China still has troops positioned on territory that India claims, including parts of Kashmir. It would seem that, just as we're getting ready to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the start of WWI, we could see the beginning of WWIII.

  • At 4:16 AM, Blogger Steve Browne said…

    Well, that's one way to deal with a surplus of males...

    P.S. An extended version of this post will be published on The Atlasphere.


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