What Should We Expect From China and India’s Imbalanced Sex Ratios?

In his 2002 book Our Posthuman Future, Francis Fukuyama predicted dire consequences for China and South Korea due to their high sex ratios:

There are precedents, however, for new medical technologies having population-level effects as a result of millions of individual choices. One has to look no further than contemporary Asia, where a combination of cheap sonograms and easy access to abortion has led to a dramatic shifting of sex ratios. In Korea, for example, 122 boys were born in the early 1990s for every too girls, compared with a normal ratio of 105 to too. The ratio in the People’s Republic of China is only somewhat lower, at 117 boys for every too girls, and there are parts of northern India where ratios are even more skewed. This has led to a deficit of girls in Asia that the economist Amartya Sew at one point estimated to be 100 million. In all of these societies, abortion for the purpose of sex selection is illegal; but despite government pressure, the desire of individual parents for a male heir has produced grossly lopsided sex ratios.

Highly skewed sex ratios can produce important social consequences. By the second decade of the twenty-first century, China will face a situation in which up to one fifth of its marriage-age male population will not be able, to find brides. It is hard to imagine a better formula for trouble, given the propensity of unattached young males to be involved in activities like risk-taking, rebellion, and crime. There will be compensating benefits as well: the deficit of women will allow females to control the mating process more effectively, leading to more stable family life for those who can get married.*

‘Marcia Guttentag and Paul Secord have suggested that the sexual revolution and the breakdown of the traditional family in the United States was produced in pan by sex ratios favoring men in the 196os and 79705. See Marcia Guttentag and Paul F. Secord, Too Many Women? The Sex Ratio Question (Newbury Park, Calif.: Sage Publications, 1983). (Fukuyama, 2002, pp. 80–81)

A child born in the 1990s would see his inclination to criminality peak in the 2010s. So what happened?

(Stiles, 2016)
China homicide rate
Murder rate by year in China.(World Bank, 2018a)

Fukuyama’s prediction of “more stable family life” in China and Korea has similarly proven wrong, divorce rates in both countries have increased.(Dong-hwan, 2017; Zhou, 2017) Why was he wrong? While the prediction about crime was IMHO defensible, the prediction about how “females controlling the mating process more effectively” would lead to “more stable family life” reflects a fundamentally flawed view of human nature, one which led to a laughably wrong prediction.

In South Korea, the sex ratio at birth has declined since the 1990s, approaching the “natural” ratio of 1.05 boys per girl. Its situation thus will improve with time. In China and India, by contrast, the worst has not yet been seen. In India, the ratio rose until around 2002 and then leveled off. In China, it rose until 2007 and then declined thereafter.(World Bank, 2018b, 2018c) But the example of Korea shows we should be very skeptical of the dire predictions which are regularly made about these countries. If the crime rate is affected one way or another, it will be swamped by other effects.

Works Cited

Dong-hwan, K. (2017). Spiking divorce rate changes law, marriage style. Retrieved August 10, 2018, from http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/nation/2017/01/116_221348.html

Fukuyama, F. (2002). Our posthuman future : consequences of the biotechnology revolution.

Stiles, M. (2016). Murder Rates in the U.S., Korea | The Daily Viz. Retrieved August 10, 2018, from http://thedailyviz.com/2016/05/24/murders-united-states-south-korea/

World Bank. (2018a). Intentional homicides (per 100,000 people) | Data. Retrieved August 10, 2018, from https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/VC.IHR.PSRC.P5?locations=CN&view=chart

World Bank. (2018b). Sex ratio at birth (male births per female births) | Data. Retrieved August 11, 2018, from https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SP.POP.BRTH.MF?locations=CN&view=chart

World Bank. (2018c). Sex ratio at birth (male births per female births) | Data. Retrieved August 11, 2018, from https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SP.POP.BRTH.MF?locations=IN&view=chart

Zhou, V. (2017). Marriage rate down, divorce rate up as more Chinese couples say ‘I don’t’ or ‘I won’t any more’ | South China Morning Post. Retrieved August 10, 2018, from https://www.scmp.com/news/china/society/article/2109868/marriage-rate-down-divorce-rate-more-chinese-couples-say-i-dont

One thought on “What Should We Expect From China and India’s Imbalanced Sex Ratios?

  1. Pingback: Pickle Ree Bias – Alexander Turok

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