Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Demographic distortion . . .

FOREIGN POLICY is an interesting site, with an interesting article by Mara Hvistendahl, "Where Have All the Girls Gone?". You may be aware of the problem, but there are something like 160 million women MISSING from the population in Asia.

How did more than 160 million women go missing from Asia? The simple answer is sex selection -- typically, an ultrasound scan followed by an abortion if the fetus turns out to be female -- but beyond that, the reasons for a gap half the size of the U.S. population are not widely understood. And when I started researching a book on the topic, I didn't understand them myself.

Now, observers have been assuming that the cause of this is the patriarchal societies predisposition for male heirs. Well, it seems that there are other influences.

I thought I would focus on how gender discrimination has persisted as countries develop. The reasons couples gave for wanting boys varies: Sons stayed in the family and took care of their parents in old age, or they performed ancestor and funeral rites important in some cultures. Or it was that daughters were a burden, made expensive by skyrocketing dowries.

But that didn't account for why sex selection was spreading across cultural and religious lines. Once found only in East and South Asia, imbalanced sex ratios at birth have recently reached countries as varied as Vietnam, Albania, and Azerbaijan. The problem has fanned out across these countries, moreover, at a time when women are driving many developing economies. In India, where women have achieved political firsts still not reached in the United States, sex selection has become so intense that
by 2020 an estimated 15 to 20 percent of men in northwest India will lack female counterparts. I could only explain that epidemic as the cruel sum of technological advances and lingering sexism. I did not think the story of sex selection's spread would lead, in part, to the United States.


Purple library guy said...

I'm not sure this is an unmixed disaster. The real demographic bad news in India, for instance, is massive population growth. But the size of the next generation is limited by the number of mothers. A skewed demographic with fewer women should slow population growth.

It's also possible that on average, women being scarce will overall improve their status (doubtless it will also drive anti-woman violence of various sorts, but on balance there may be a net improvement).

Niles said...

Also from the article...

"For it was news of sex-selective and forced abortions that helped fuel a budding anti-abortion movement in the United States."

Really? *REALLY*??

Nice plant of unsubstantiated sweeping generalization and timeline there. Amidst other unsubstantiated statements.

And yet with all that, the upshot of the article is that the patriarchy *IS* to blame for sex selecting for male babies. Even in the United States. The article seems to come down to whining about there not being enough commodity for men and only rich men will be able to mate Because It's The Feminists' Fault that women will be objectified and treated as currency.

Eeeyah. Pull the other one.

double nickel said...

A society with a major overabundance of young single men will have to resort to warfare:
a) to conquer another society where there are women
b)to give them something to do other than overthrowing their existing government