Washington: In India and China, men outnumber women by 70 million even as both nations are belatedly trying to come to grips with the policies that created this male-heavy generation.
According to a report in The Washington Post, nothing like this has happened in human history. A combination of cultural preferences, government decree and modern medical technology in the world's two largest countries has created a gender imbalance on a continental scale. Men outnumber women by 70 million in China and India.
The consequences of having too many men, now coming of age, are far-reaching: Beyond an epidemic of loneliness, the imbalance distorts labor markets, drives up savings rates in China and drives down consumption, artificially inflates certain property values, and parallels increases in violent crime, trafficking or prostitution in a growing number of locations.
Those consequences are not confined to China and India, but reach deep into their Asian neighbours and distort the economies of Europe and the Americas, as well. Barely recognised, the ramifications of too many men are only starting to come into sight.
"In the future, there will be millions of men who can't marry, and that could pose a very big risk to society," warns Li Shuzhuo, a leading demographer at Xi'an Jiaotong University.
Out of China's population of 1.4 billion, there are nearly 34 million more males than females — the equivalent of almost the entire population of California, or Poland, who will never find wives and only rarely have sex. China's official one-child policy, in effect from 1979 to 2015, was a huge factor in creating this imbalance, as millions of couples were determined that their child should be a son. India, a country that has a deeply held preference for sons and male heirs, has an excess of 37 million males, according to its most recent census. The number of newborn female babies compared with males has continued to plummet, even as the country grows more developed and prosperous. The imbalance creates a surplus of bachelors and exacerbates human trafficking, both for brides and, possibly, prostitution. Officials attribute this to the advent of sex-selective technology in the last 30 years, which is now banned but still in widespread practice.
In the two countries, 50 million excess males are under age 20.
These lines represent the number of girls, from newborns to age four, in China and India since 1970, with projections out to 2100. The darker lines show the number of male babies during that same period.
The shaded area is the difference between these boys and girls. The number of young boys in India and China has outpaced the number of young girls by millions for at least 20 years.
When looking at just the ratio of boys to girls in each country, it may look as if that gap has narrowed ... but its effects on marriage have yet to peak. The biggest gap between men and women of marriageable age, defined here as 15 to 29, will come in the next few decades, as the babies of the past decade grow up.
And factoring in the large pool of both unmarried older and younger men vying for the same small pool of young women, the gap becomes more of a chasm.
Both nations are belatedly trying to come to grips with the policies that created this male-heavy generation. And demographers say it will take decades for the ramifications of the bulge to fade away.
Public safety. With the increase in men has come a surge in sexual crime in India and concerns about a rise in other crimes in both countries. Harassment of schoolgirls in India has in some towns sparked an effort to push back — but at a cost of restricting them to more protected lives. UNI