The Great Gender Imbalance of China

China's future

China’s future

Everyone has heard of China’s single Child policy, but not everyone has seen what the resulting gender imbalance looks like in reality. During my recent visits to the supermarket, I made a point of comparing the number of baby boys to baby girls. I was astonished that every time I observed at least 80% boys! I couldn’t believe that China’s gender imbalance could be so extreme, so I asked a number of friends who live nearby. They confirmed what I had seen – a ridiculously disproportionate number of boys. Of course such an extreme proportion is not representative of the whole of China; the official statistic from 2012 is 117.7 newborn boys for every 100 girls, which is still high. Lets now look at exactly WHY there are so many boys, and why the city in which I live appears to have many more than then natural average.

I detailed in my other article living for others the importance of having a boy in China.  Firstly, to continue the family lineage (very important in traditional Chinese culture). Secondly, for giving the parents a place to stay and be looked after in their twilight years; after their baby boy has grown up, bought a house and married. So along comes the one-child policy and everybody wants their one child to be a boy. The result? China’s gender imbalance.

When the policy was first introduced, many baby girls were abandoned and left to die, or if they were lucky simply just given away to another family. Later on, with increased access to modern medical technology parents were able to determine whether it was a boy or girl before birth, and terminate the pregnancy if it was a girl (today gender can be determined in advance of pregnancy). The government outlawed this, because it would exacerbate the China’s gender balance too much and China would soon become a nation with only boys! In an ideal world, simply outlawing termination would have solved the gender imbalance problem… but it didn’t.

Soon, a medical black market of gender testing and determination arouse. Of course not everyone can afford this, especially the typical peasant in the countryside (which still China’s largest demographic), but I happen to live in one of China’s wealthiest cities. This is explains why I’ve seen such an abnormally large proportion of boys here. Just look at it from a wealthy Chinese family’s perspective… Family ties are really close in China, and a couple would be facing pressure from their countless relatives to have a boy. Without a boy, the man’s responsibility to continue the family linage has not been fulfilled, and despite what he has achieved in other aspects of life, this will remain his weakness. So of course most wealthy couples will take the initiative to make sure it’s a boy. Thus in the wealthier area of China you will see more boys.

Of course, a 80:20 ratio is not representative of the entire population. The actual statistic from 2012 is 117.7 newborn boys for every 100 girls. I have just showed a more extreme case: if a family has the means, they will more than likely make sure it’s a baby boy. The one child policy has been relaxed a little in recent times, and now families who are registered as peasants may have two children without penalty, IF THE FIRST ONE IS A GIRL. An additional measure was introduced recently where a couple may have two children if the one parents was an only child. This doesn’t do much to help the fact that there are far too many boys. What happens when you have a large population of young men who are not able to settle down because there are not enough woman to go around? I don’t want to be here to find out, but I do hope they find a way to solve it.

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