Thursday, September 15, 2005

 

China's Bachelor Bomb

Few people are aware of the impending demographic time bomb ticking away in China:
In a trend fraught with troubling political and social implications, China will soon find itself with a marriage-age population remarkably out of balance, with about 23 million more young men than women available for them to marry in this decade and the next - what demographers term a 'marriage squeeze.'

This impending surplus of unattached young men could be a driving force behind increased crime, explosive epidemics of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases, and even international threats to the security of other nations. Yet the Chinese government has done little to address its demographic destiny.

The coming squeeze is largely the legacy of the government's one-child policy, along with societal modernization. As a result, the nation's fertility rate has fallen dramatically, from around 6 children per woman in the 1960s to around 1.7 currently.

But the society's strong cultural preference for sons has not changed. In recent decades, ready access to ultrasound technology has enabled parents to learn the sex of their unborn children and has led to widespread female-specific abortion.

(Emphasis mine.)
Gender imbalances are common in developing countries, though nowhere else is it this pronounced. Such are the consequences of social engineering efforts affected by a totalitarian regime. By denying its populace the most fundamental freedoms and trying to maintain control over all aspects of life, China's Communist regime all but created its own demographic destiny. In addition to ordinary, everyday repression, through despicably inhuman measures -- including forced abortions and mandatory sterilizations -- they have rigidly enforced the one child policy for more than one generation. Thus the stakes for couples desiring sons became all or nothing.

The authors acknowledge Chinese Communist policies exacerbated social preferences, but imply that the regime should do something to address it. Just what, exactly, do they want the regime to do? Cull the excess bachelors? With its track record, anything -- absolutely anything -- is possible.

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