Much has been written lately regarding China’s gender gap and how by 2020, there will be 30 million more men than women in China. Many are predicting this lack of gender balance will lead to all sorts of social problems, including increased crime and instability. Many are even saying this will lead China to start a war, essentially to give its men something to do and to aid in culling them off.
The writing on this is fascinating.
Foreign Policy Magazine, in its article, It’s Raining Men in China, cites an interesting study linking too many men to increased violence. The Brothers Judd blog says it’s not a matter of whether China will have a war, it is just a question as to whether it will be an internal or an external one. The Magic Statistics Blog [link no longer exists] says this shortage of men “was so predictable” based on China’s One Child Policy and that China’s plan to increase the safety net for its elderly citizens will not reduce the imbalance. The Signal94 Blog tells us to “look for “more aggression from China to draw national attention away from its failed domestic policies.”
Thomas Barnett sees all this as just further fulminating by the China doom and gloom crowd and (without my having any qualifications whatsoever as a demographer), I tend to agree. First off, thirty million really is not all that many when you consider what the number will be in the denominator by then: 1.5 billion. Now I know this 1.5 billion figure includes all ages and not just those readying for marriage, but still. Second, and more importantly, these predictions (like so many predictions) assume everything else will remain the same. Mutantis mutandi, is what this assumption is called, and it is virtually never true and is extremely unlikely to be true here either. And this is where Barnett steps in. His post is entitled Six Reasons Not to Worry About All Those Chinese Men [link no longer exists] and his six reasons are as follows
First, many of these males are found in rural areas. Those who can make a good life will find a wife locally or import them from elsewhere in Asia. Not an historical first and not that hard.
Second, many of these men leave in undocumented fashion. Baby girls aborted or given up for adoption, but unattached males often sneak out as economic refugees in their early adulthood, which makes males the biggest village export from China right now.
Third, by 2020 China will see 100 million of its citizens travel abroad each year, so personal access to foreign women hardly restricted.
Fourth, the notion of Chinese society casually sending off single sons to war is BS. In China they call it the 4-2-1 problem: 4 grandparents, 2 parents, one son to support all.
Fifth, China’s PLA [Peoples Liberation Army] is moving away from bodies to capital, so little desire there to pack them up for war.
Sixth, the notion of social distress is mitigated by rising incomes, which facilitates for successful males the opportunities described above, and for unsuccessful ones, the chance to emigrate (again, something that happens a lot).
Everything’s gonna be alright,
Everything ‘s gonna be alright,
Everything ‘s gonna be alright,
Everything’s going to be alright.
What do you think?