May 10, 2004
On China's Shortage Of Females

China has a lot of extra males. (same article here)

The number of boys under 9 years old was 12.77 million more than that of girls.


Li said the normal newborn sex proportion is 100:104-107, and if China's disproportionate figure is allowed to continue unchecked, there would be 30 to 40 million marriage-age men who would be single all their lives by 2020.

"Such serious gender disproportion poses a major threat to the healthy, harmonious and sustainable growth of the nation's population and would trigger such crimes and social problems as mercenary marriage, abduction of women and prostitution," Li said.

I've previously written on China's sex ratio problem and how it could make China militarily aggressive. In a post about Taiwan's sex ratio problem I speculated that a surplus of males will be a selective pressure for higher IQ as smarter men will use their higher earning power to outcompete less smart men for women. There are yet other likely consequences of the increasingly skewed sex ratios of China, Taiwan, and other East and South Asian countries such as India. So let us explore a couple of other possible consequences.

One possible response to the surplus of males in China is that more Chinese men will seek to emigrate to lands that have more women. When there is a shortage one way to deal with a shortage is to go to where the supply is more plentiful. This could lead to literally tens of millions of men trying to leave China for more babe-rich territories. Another strong possibility is that Chinese men may enter the market for "mail order brides" on an absolutely massive scale. Whether the Chinese government will allow Chinese men to import brides by the millions remains to be seen. But the single men will have plenty of motive to try to shop abroad for mates. For millions of men women in foreign lands will be their only potential candidates to be their brides.

Suppose that China decides to allow foreign brides to be imported. Will the Chinese government impose racial requirements in order to assure that the imported brides will have children that can plausibly be passed off as genetically Chinese? Or will China impose other qualifications such as a minimum level of tested intelligence or education? Most foreign woman with higher intelligence and more advanced educations are going to have good choices of husbands and career prospects in their own lands. So they are going to be a hard sell. On the other hand, if China's economy continues to grow rapidly eventually Chinese living standards may rise far enough to put Chinese men in a better position to offer foreign women in poorer countries a more affluent lifestyle.

One can easily imagine disputes between China and other nations if the Chinese government allows the importation of brides. Men in neighboring countries are not exactly going to be happy if their women are getting recruited in large numbers to move to China and marry Chinese guys.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2004 May 10 03:05 AM  Trends Demographic

TangoMan said at May 10, 2004 10:57 AM:

First, where are these babe-rich lands to which you refer?

Secondly, do a search on Vietnamese brides imported into China. There are all sorts of gems in these articles that detail loose border controls, registering with the local officials who turn a blind eye to the human smuggling, local marrige brokers who facilitate the trade, the brides looking to step up to Chinese men, even poor villagers, compared to what they face at home. Look also to Taiwan for more background on these brides. I recall an article I read where some lower class men in Taiwan were dismayed by the results modernity and career opportunites have presented to women and how they aren't so happy to look after the man's aging parents and the rest of the package. Some men go through multiple mail order brides but the brides soon realize that though their lives are better in Taiwan that they've snagged the bottom fish on the ladder. Then because of the female shortage they soon trade-up.

r said at May 11, 2004 12:48 AM:

two words: north korea

see the WaPo article in this post:

a lot of these refugees end up as actual wives for chinese men, and from what I've read they sometimes get a decent guy who might give them a better life than they would have had in North Korea.

Nancy Lebovitz said at May 11, 2004 6:51 AM:

Expect cultural dilution as well as genetic dilution.

Randy McDonald said at May 11, 2004 8:28 AM:

There is apparently, as TangoMan pointed out, substantial Vietnamese female migration to Guangxi autonomous region in southwestern China. The Vietnamese and Zhuang are ethnically similar, and there are sex imbalances in Vietnam still from the war there.

As for sex imbalances, I suspect that the richer and more urban areas will do better than the poorer and more rural areas, simply because there's more to attract women. I don't think that there will be much importation overall, simply because China is such a vast country. Vietnamese and North Korean migration might be all there is (although I wouldn't bet indefinitely on North Korean migration, given how South Korea can and does serve as a potent attractor for ethnic Korean migrants).

Eric Lien said at May 11, 2004 8:28 AM:

This has the possibility to poke a rather unusual hole in the oft-repeated statement in conservative or libertarian circles that "China will overtake America cuz they don't believe in multiculturalism/affirmative action/mass immigration." A few interesting dynamics to note:

1. China already has a system of affirmative action in place (right now, restricted to recognized national minorities). The US already showed us one possible outcome of interaction between mass immigration and affirmative action. Don't think China would end up exactly like that, but it might.

2. On average, mail-order bride sending countries are likely to be lower IQ than receiving countries. (Big caveats in here cuz of communism's effect in the region e.g. Vietnam, but still ...)

3. As noted in the article about Taiwanese men looking for brides, the guys taking the brides are likely to be none too bright themselves, otherwise they could have attracted a native bride. But their wives will probably have more trouble "trading up," since in rural China, unlike rural Taiwan, your freedom of movement is pretty restricted, and the nearest cities (concentrations of men to whom a mail-order bride might want to trade up) are a lot farther away, especially given the shortage of cars and buses.

4. Depending on how far afield Chinese men go looking for mail-order brides, plenty of their kids might be highly visually distinct from the overall Chinese population (For N. Korea, Vietnam, or even countries further into SE Asia, it's not a problem. But go 20 years into the future when the trend is bigger and China's economy is better, and you might see importation from a far more diverse range of sending populations, not just E/SE Asia). Combine that with the fact that both parents are likely to be lower IQ than average for the population, and you have the perfect recipe for a whole class of people who are gonna feel oppressed and discriminated against (constant teasing about appearance, lack of job opportunities, etc.)

And personally I doubt the aging Commie leadership are gonna have the balls to stand up to 40 million young, pissed-off men and restrict their supply of mail-order brides by telling them they can only import from certain countries with acceptable physical appearance. Not to mention, local cadres wouldn't wanna enforce such policies --- local cadres are usually highly sympathetic to these lonely men, since they're not causing political trouble like democrats or guys demanding pensions, but just wanna get wives and settle down (men with wives are also less likely to cause trouble of any kind).

harry vest said at May 13, 2004 5:03 PM:

This is a nightmare waiting to happen. Make's me think of the old prophecy from the Bible as well as I think Nostradamus - of the great army from the north which will march on foot and with horses throughout Europe to the Middle East. Come the year 2020 there will be up to 40 million chinese men who will have NO HOPE whatsoever of finding ANY female companionship. This will lead to 40 million very angry, frustrated and hopeless males with nothing to do but fight. This is the world's worst nightmare. Those fools have tried to cheat nature and we will all pay!!!

Russell said at August 9, 2004 1:23 PM:

What effect will this have on the nations where the mail order brides are coming from. I think it's safe to assume that most brides will be from the poorest segment of society (why else would they do this) and that they will be from urban areas (less constricted by tradition). So imagine, the modest vision of having the poorest segment of a society (also the ones that can reproduce) practically disappear. This might have enormous effects on the quality of life of a country like Vietnam or the Philippines when their extreme poverty is simply exported. Is there a European nation we can look to where something similar happened as the poorest members travelled to America, possibly Ireland or Sourthern Italy.

coy_gal said at January 21, 2005 3:23 PM:

Imported wives from the poorer countries w/c are more genetically different from the chinese, TEND to be DUMBER and POORER and MISEDUCATED and STUPID and PROLIFEROUS. And of course they hate IMMIGRATION RESTRICTIONS. (eg 80,000 Filipino entertainers in Japan)
Once they arrive at their destination, they'll become TNTs (tago nang tago = hiding & hiding) and marry & breed *shudder* or bring their relatives along *shudder* and still breed *gulp*.

Gary said at May 23, 2005 4:54 AM:

I doubt there will be any importation at all. Why would the government possibly want there to be several million more couples reproducting and having children? Why would a foreign bride be stupid enough to go to China just to marry the poorest and socially lowest males? And anyway the government and the chinese people are not exactly accomodating to those who are from different races expecially when there is marriage and reproduction involved. I expect that all that will happen would be that increased illegall immigration by potential foreign brides there will be. What do you think?

chris said at December 11, 2005 2:27 PM:

short of women... this is a pay-back time.

law said at October 22, 2006 8:23 PM:

China will never allow women to move to their country. They already export a lot more females to the USA and Europe via adoption. They have this program going for the sake of population control in the first place. My chinese friend told me the gay male population is very high in china. They will absorb this issue internally and american men will continue to import women from china as mail-order-brides for the next century. China also has too many people for many individuals in particular to ever become very well to do. In 30 years from now Japan will still be brining in more women from china then the other way around and the USA will still be bringing in thousands and thousands of little chinese girls that no one wants to raise.

Howard Hirsch said at December 21, 2006 11:10 PM:

Best treatment of this subject I've seen was Valerie Hudson's "Bare Branches".

Ulrike said at March 12, 2007 6:56 PM:

I agree with law's comments...

China will absorb this internally as...
1. They are too f___ing stupid and arrogant to change their ways.
2. People often state that this will increase the trade of mail order brides. Hey stupid: where are the brides going to come from to match 40M men (another 40-60M in India, too)? Most of the countries in the region (except Vietnam) have imbalances in gender ratios also. Indeed, with no intervention at all the ratio is about 105-106 males per 100 females. Further, it is doubtful that many women will relocate to marry some rural chump in China. And pray tell, where will the urban chumps get the $$$?
3. People also state that there will be an upsurge in prostitution. This is partly true, but again, where will all the hookers come from? There is a limit to the degree to which prostitution/human trafficking can fill the void, and hookers have high death rates (after they are like 16 and too old, they usually kill them off if they don't die frist of AIDS). After all, men want a woman they can abuse/use as all-purpose maid for a lifetime, not just one night!
4. The status of women in cities has really increased: the richest person in China (China's Bill Gates) is a woman. Half of the engineers and college profs are female. This does NOT mean that China is a great place for women, but they have come a long way from having no status. And their own wealth and status has given them more bargaining power as far as men. Many choose not to get married at all, enjoying the professional life.
5. The major 40M man army argument is a teeny bit flawed... China does not have the capacity to even invade Taiwan, let alone leverage a 40M man army. Militarization is certainly an option, but because of logisitcs and resource constraints, it is only a partial option.

What I think will happen:
1. The trend will continue, at full force, until it is about 150 boys to 100 girls.
2. The girls that are born have extensive families (e.g. 4 grandparents, 2 parents, aunts/uncles) that will invest in her, as she is the only kid. This will protect Chinese girls from being forced into prostitution/crappy marriages (is there much difference?). In China, this is happening a lot and the girls are called "little princesses."
3. The women who do marry will be able to take multiple husbands if they so choose. They will also be able to take boyfriends on the side, and they will increasingly judge men for status, money, youth, and physical attractiveness/strength.
4. Chinese militarization of young men will be greatly constrained by globalization, the Chinese gov't being in bed with other gov'ts, and continuing resource shortages and logistical problems will prevent mass mobilization. That does not mean that they cannot greatly expand their current army. It may increase China's power, it may not, it is hard to say. Chinese officials are cheap and easy to buy, so war can be avoided.
5. There will be unrest in the countryside fed by injustice done to rural farmers. The unrest will be put down in increasingly violent ways. A lot of the excess men will die or be imprisoned. They will feed the rampant trade in human organs (already happening).

Amelia said at February 19, 2008 4:33 AM:

The foreign wives could easily come from Russia. I read in Marie Claire, February 2008, that there is a substantial shortage of men in the former USSR.

Russian women even pay lots of money to take classes on finding a rich man. Also, Russian women do seem more eager to do the mail order bride thing and since they have so few men.

Russians typically just have one child in recent years, and many Russian young men died in labor camps before communism ended. This shortage might help alleviate China's situation.

Of course, many Chinese stereotype Russians as prostitutes since many poor Russian women in China are involved in the sex trade, but this prejudice is not so strong it could not be overlooked. It might be a viable solution for those who are lonely and want families.

Erasmus said at October 15, 2008 12:24 PM:

Due to a long history of favoring boys babies over girls China and India have always traditionally had a sex ratio imbalance, even more than the natural 106:100 male to female imbalance. Modern science has excacerbated the problem but it has always been around.

The new "wealth" of these countries is only going to benefit a small percentage of the population, this is capitalism and capitalism must have huge numbers of laborers to benefit the elite few. A small number of uber rich will get richer, a modest middle class may arise to administer the "new economy" but the vast majority of Chinese and Indian people will remain what they are. Poor people scratching out a subsistence living.

Chinese and Indian men with money don't necessarily need to import brides from other poorer countries, they already have an enormous pool of poor to draw from in their own countries. Of the girls that are born plenty of them will be happy to turn their back on their more numerous male peers to go with men who have greater financial means. Families will be looking for more well off men for their daughters, and they will find them. The men left behind will remain where they are. Alone with no hope of finding a wife in their own country and too poor to afford one outside. Don't feel sorry for them though, if they had children they would favor boys just like most of the other Chinese or Indians. They only have themselves to blame.

Still, if these 10's of millions of men do leave the country searching for wives perhaps all countries should put severe restrictions on emigration of single Chinese and Indian men. Is it the duty for the rest of the world to supply women to countries that murder 10's of millions of female babies?

I could see some countries doing that but not the U.S. America is too dominated by politicaly correct mind numbed idiots who will scream discrimination (and ignore what may be the greatest holocaust perpetrated to women ever) if immigration laws ever try to place limits on single males from India and China.

M L Khan said at June 10, 2009 9:52 AM:

The recent gay festival in Shanghai probably signifies Chinese government's acceptance of what will be of the future. There is a growing gay population in China and there is nothing the officials can do about it.

Matt said at September 24, 2009 7:23 AM:

RE: Russia - Do a little background on The Great War and the Great Purges of the Stalin era. There are millions more women in Russia than men to this day because of the tens of millions of Russian men killed over the last 60 years. There is a definite surplus. Now, whether or not Russian women want to hook up with Chinese, who knows :)

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