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Chinese Policy
What “One Child” Left Behind

In China, the prevalence of selective abortions has skewed the natural ratio of males to females, and in many places there simply aren’t enough women to go around. Bloomberg View has an excellent piece highlighting some of the consequences of the surfeit of men:

In the villages outside of Handan, China, a bachelor looking to marry a local girl needs to have as much as $64,000 — the price tag for a suitable home and obligatory gifts. That’s a bit out of the price range of many of the farmers who live in the area. So in recent years, according to the Beijing News, local men have been turning to a Vietnamese marriage broker, paying as much as $18,500 for an imported wife, complete with a money-back guarantee in case the bride fled. […]

In January, the director of China’s National Bureau of Statistics announced that China is home to 33.8 million more men than women out of a population exceeding 1.3 billion.

China has made minor moves to ease the strict One Child policy of late. But even if China can boost its birth rate eventually, it certainly can’t be done overnight. For a look at what this policy will continue to cost the country, do read the whole thing.

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  • LarryD

    Historically, such skewed gender ratios either cause, or result from, high levels of warfare. “Interesting times”, indeed.

  • FriendlyGoat

    We might understand this better if we had ever had something more than four times the number of Americans living in America.

  • jimh79

    Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, Macau, and the rest of the Overseas Chinese (including Chinese Americans) have similarly low fertility rates but have never had a one-child policy. Heck, mainland Chinese have a higher fertility rate than any major group of Overseas Chinese with the exception of Chinese-Americans. Recently Macau had a total fertility rate of 0.8, the absolute lowest fertility rate of any large population in history outside of certain nunneries – and the Chicoms aren’t performing forced abortions in Macau. (One might object that the Overseas Chinese are strictly urban populations and therefore have lower fertility as a matter of course, which is a valid but not decisive point; at any rate, China is urbanizing incredibly rapidly.) All the OCP did was accelerate a trend which arises from natural developments within Chinese culture (and which are hardly unique to that culture – in practical terms, even Mexico has a sub-replacement fertility rate today). Certainly sex-selective abortion is increased by the moronic/evil OCP, and in rural areas in particular there is probably a certain unmet “demand” for more children which is currently constrained, so to that extent the immediate cessation of the OCP would quickly result in an small fertility bump. But the Chinese aren’t crypto-Hutterites champing at the natal bit to produce huge families, so even if the Chicoms got their heads out of the sand and canceled the OCP China would still have markedly low fertility rates, literally into the foreseeable future. In fact, given their skewed sex ratio and age distribution, even if in a alternate bizarro-universe the Chinese tomorrow somehow ratcheted their fertility rates to, say, the modestly-above-replacement rate of the Israelis (which they absolutely won’t!) the Chinese still would face a huge population decline and dreadful population-aging problem in the next few decades. They’ve gone off the demographic cliff and its only question of how hard they’re going to land.

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