Asia's Catastrophic Gender Imbalance

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Asia

It’s been labeled “gendercide” — the selection of boys over girls, using abortion as the means of implementing this preference.  In China, it’s been driven by the convergence of two unhealthy factors:

  1. The government policy of limiting families to one child to control population growth.
  2. The cultural biases against having female offspring.

The results of these combined factors threaten to affect the economic, social, and political well-being of China over the coming decades — and that, in turn, poses a threat to the stability of the rest of the world.

Traditionally, there has been a preference among Chinese parents to have male children.  They earn higher wages, tend to care for aging and sick parents, and carry on the family name.  Girls, on the other hand, are often viewed as a liability because of the cost of their dowries and their eventual assimilation into their husbands’ families.1

In the 1980s, when technology became available for the prenatal determination of a baby’s gender, the practice of sex selection through abortion began.  Up until that time, China’s birth ratio mirrored that of the rest of the world.  Universally, for every 100 girls born, 105 boys are born.  The ratio of men to women tends to equalize by adulthood due to boys’ higher level of risk-taking, more aggressive behavior, and deaths as a result of wars.

Over the past three decades, the practice of gendercide in China has skewed this traditional sex ratio at birth.  In some provinces, this birth ratio of boys to girls has risen as high as 130.  And, in a country with a population as large as China’s, the numbers quickly become staggering.  According to Professor Therese Hesketh, of the UCL Centre for International Health and Development in London, “In 2005, it was estimated that the number of males under the age of 20 years exceeded the number of females by around 32 million.”2

China’s one-child policy, coupled with readily available abortions, is driving more than just a gender imbalance.  It has worked so well at its intended goal of population control that as early as 2020, China will experience a labor shortage, according to Philip Longman, author of The Empty Cradle:  How Falling Birthrates Threaten World Prosperity.3 He predicts that by 2050, with each successive generation, China will lose 20 to 30 percent of its population.

The irony is that population control in China was instituted out of a fear that unchecked population growth would not be sustainable by its economy...

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