China’s “one child” policy (to halt population growth), and the unanticipated appearance of cheap sonograms (enabling parents to determine the gender of their child while there was still time for an abortion) has caused an imbalance in the gender ratio. There are now 115 boys for every 100 girls.
Young men are having a problem finding wives. Wealthier urban males attract more women from the rural areas (where 70 percent of Chinese still live), leaving a lot of lonely, poor and angry young men in the countryside. The smaller generations means that the proportion of elderly (made wealthier and healthier by the booming economy) is skyrocketing, while the workforce is shrinking.
Love and war. Others have hypothesized that, in addition to frustrating the romantic aspirations of young men in China’s countryside, the “too-many-boys” policy makes China’s decision-makers unusually willing to go to war. I’m not so sure this theory works, but the idea is that a nation with too many boys is less reluctant to engage in activities that incidentally reduce the number of boys.
I’m surprised that the 115-100 ratio, which the Chinese are keenly aware of, hasn’t spurred a trend toward too many Chinese baby girls. Girls have to be in heightened demand. But apparently, the Chinese want boys, not only to carry on a family name, but because boys’ muscle power remains an important economic advantage in China’s primarily rural society.