March 02, 2009
Sex Ratio At Birth Rises In Vietnam

Selective abortion of female fetuses is common in China, India, and some other Asian countries. A Plos One report finds that Vietnam shows signs of following the same pattern with a rise in the number of male births to 100 female births (Sex Ratio at Birth or SRB).

Birth history statistics indicate that the SRB in Viet Nam has recorded a steady growth since 2001. Starting from a level probably close to the biological standard of 105, the SRB reached 108 in 2005 and 112 in 2006, a value significantly above the normal level. An independent confirmation of these results comes from the surveys of births in health facilities which yielded a SRB of 110 in 200607. High SRB is linked to various factors such as access to modern health care, number of prenatal visits, level of higher education and employment status, young age, province of residence and prenatal sex determination. These results suggest that prenatal sex determination followed by selective abortion has recently become more common in Viet Nam. This recent trend is a consequence of various factors such as preference for sons, declining fertility, easy access to abortion, economic development as well as the increased availability of ultrasonography facilities.

One potential problem from a surplus of males is obviously more violence. All the single guys competing for women and feeling sexual frustration can cause problems.

But there's an evolutionary angle that is more interesting. The surplus of males heightens competition for reproductive resources (i.e. women) and therefore heightens selective pressures. One might expect economically more successful men to have an advantage in such a situation. If so, the effect will be to select for genes that code for smarter, more ambitious, and more driven males.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2009 March 02 11:09 PM  Trends, Human Evolution

Grim said at March 2, 2009 11:17 PM:

Historically I don't think it causes violence in most cases. But it does cause wealth creation. Having more money than the next guy is a guaranteed way to pick up a chick in these nations. As long as guys are given a dynamic way to seek this wealth everything should work out.

Mthson said at March 3, 2009 1:14 AM:

Males increasingly have artificial outlets for their sexual drive in the form of online pornography, and this seems particularly accepted in the non-monotheistic Asian cultures, so it seems like a male-skewed society doesn't necessarily have to be associated with e.g. increased physical aggression.

JoeKing said at March 3, 2009 5:31 PM:

The obvious solution...polyandry. Judging by how difficult it is to live with a woman full time, I see this as a win-win.

cyber said at March 3, 2009 7:13 PM:

for a forward looking lot you certainly don't put enough stock in the market developing close substitutes to real women.

Engineer-Poet said at March 3, 2009 10:37 PM:

You mean, Japanese robotics combined with Real Doll aesthetics?

fran auger said at March 4, 2009 8:37 AM:

What a lonely world it will be for all those men - just manufacture a war to bring the demographics in line with natural selection. Either that or find blonde, blue eyed Nordic gals to fill the need - should make all those gender selecting parents happy.

George said at March 4, 2009 9:28 AM:

Throwing gasoline on the fire, surplus Asian men are likely to be even more frustrated in mixed race countries if present trends continue. In "Is Love Colorblind?", Steve Sailer documents a strong preference for the caucasian man asian woman combination in interracial dating over the opposite case. Height and masculinity appear to be a huge advantage for men trying to attract women.

submandave said at March 4, 2009 10:19 AM:

Despite the common use of selective abortion to kill female infants NOW et. al. stand fast on their support of unrestricted abortion on demand. I wonder if GLAD et. al. will continue to follow lock-step when someone develops an in-utero test that could indicate a predisposition to becoming gay?

cottus said at March 4, 2009 10:24 AM:

There are two sides to this conundrum, and while the technical solution proposed by cyber well serve in a pinch, the elephant in the room here is that the females represent a product that, whatever the demand for the finished product, nobody really wants to produce! Perhaps the ladies should re - examine their product or their marketing and do things to reverse current cultural norms. But no, they continue, ever more shrilly, to demand acceptance as 'men'. Which, obviously, they can never be. If you are a production unit and all you are allowed to produce are men, you might as well produce the real thing, considering the time and cost involved.

David said at March 4, 2009 10:25 AM:

The reason why women in these cultures selectively abort female fetuses is because their is a cultural bias against female children. Sons are seen as an asset because they add to the family's wealth by the value of their labor in poor rural areas, and by their ability to attract a dowery in urban areas. Daughters are a liability, because the value of their labor is less, and the family will have to pay a dowery to get rid of her through marriage.

The unbalanced sex ratio will eventually correct this with a market solution. As they become a scarcer commodity, women will become more valuable. Men may even have to pay a dowery to aquire wives. There will be some social disruptions, as the scarcity of any commodity is disruptive (look at what what a scarcity of credit is doing to our world). But in the end, the cultures that devalue women will be disrupted in ways that moralistic hectoring about equality of the sexes will never accomplish. I'm sure that it sounds cold to speak of women as a "commodity," but let's be real here. Until something (say market forces) compels it, the cultural forces that devalue women will remain in place.

TheOldMan said at March 4, 2009 10:55 AM:

It seems to me that this hands the keys to the kingdom to the surviving females. When there are way more men than women, the women hold the upper hand wrt to relationships.

David Govett said at March 4, 2009 11:04 AM:

Worry not. Wars will smooth out the demographic discrepancies. If not, fembots will.

Right Wing Nutter said at March 4, 2009 11:28 AM:


The flaw in your logic is that while the winners in the competition for women are likely to be dynamic wealth producers, the losers (as in places where there are plenty of women) will be the violent ones. They won't even have to civilizing responsibility enhancing influence of women to restrain them. Think in terms of Brit soccer thugs who can't get girlfriends.

New Frontiersman said at March 4, 2009 1:45 PM:

Societies that persist in sex selection against girls will select themselves out of having a future. One man and a thousand women can produce a thousand babies every nine months. One woman and a thousand men can produce one baby every nine months.

cyber said at March 5, 2009 8:21 AM:

>>You mean, Japanese robotics combined with Real Doll aesthetics?>>

that is so science fiction of the past.
accelerated-growth cat-girl hybrids?
VR sensation of recorded sex?
direct brain stimulation?

Randall Parker said at March 5, 2009 6:01 PM:

New Frontiersman,

Since the world is overpopulated this selective abortion of female fetuses works to reduce population growth and therefore provides a benefit.

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