Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Lopsided Sex Ratio in China

China, in attempts to slow down their runaway population explosion, has had a regulation since the 1970s legally limiting each Chinese family to only one child. This, combined with the traditional Chinese preference for male children and medical technology that allows people to know their child's sex before birth, has created a severely lopsided gender ratio, because of widespread aborting of female babies. In 2005, there were 118 boys born for every 100 girls in China, with some areas reaching an imbalance as high as 130 to 100.

With a present population of 1.3 billion, China expects to have 1.5 billion by 2033. With current gender imbalances, China is expected to have 30 million "surplus" men of marriageable age by 2020, with no hopes of finding partners. Despite this dilemma, China has no plans to abolish the one child per family law, as rampant overpopulation and its huge drain on resources must still be addressed.

Zhang Weiqing, director of the National Population and Family Planning Commission, has said that in an effort to reduce the gender imbalance, pre-natal gender selection would now be strictly banned.

This is a start. Adding to this, China could embark on a nationwide educational program to combat sexism to teach its population to hold females in higher regard, perhaps with financial incentives attached.

To address the more immediate problems of having 30 million surplus single men, China could also legalize and encourage polyandry (one wife, multiple husbands), as allowing only monogamous marriages in such a population is clearly maladaptive. If the wife in a polyandrous marriage was allowed one child per husband, this would go a long way to help normalize the sex ratio.


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