04 April 2012

China's 'son preference'

The sex ratio in many parts of Asia in particular has risen way past biologically possible levels. In China and India, census data indicate that the level is nationally around 120 to 100. By 2020, China will have between thirty and forty million more men than women under the age of 19. To put that figure in perspective, forty million is the total number of American men in that demographic bracket. So, within eight years, China faces the prospect of having the equivalent of the whole young male population of America permanently single. One of the dark things about this is that ‘son preference’, as it’s dryly called in the literature, rises with income and with modernisation – which means it’s been rising sharply. That amounts to many tens of millions of missing girls.


- John Lanchester, 'Marx at 193', London Review of Books, 5 April 2012, p.7-10.
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