Gender Imbalance Troubles China

2010-07-08 18:42 | The Economic Observer
With a severe gender imbalance among young Chinese, China is about to face a lot of problems.According to a Blue Paper on Society released by the China Academy of Social Science, because of the serious gender imbalance among Chinese under the age of 19, ten years later, tens of thousands of male Chinese of marriageable age will have difficulty finding a wife.It is not just the marriage market that will be influenced.In agricultural areas, unmarried young men over 25 years old are everywhere; in rural kindergartens and primary schools, the number of male students is obviously higher than that of females. In the Yangtze River Delta, Pearl River Delta and southeast Fujian Province where the local economies are dominated by the manufacturing and service industry, because of the severe shortage of women aged between 18 and 25, clothing factories have no choice but to hire young men.

China has entered a society where the number of men far exceeds that of women.

“China’s high sex ratio has lasted for over 20 years, its accumulated effects are becoming obvious,” Yuan Xin, a professor with Nankai University’s population and development research institute, said.

The sex ratio at birth under normal circumstances, should be 103 to 107 male infants for every 100 female babies. Because the death ratio of baby boys is higher than that of girls, the number of boys and girls will be close to equal when they are reach the age of marriage.

But in China, the sex ratio has been increasing since the 1980s. In 1982 when China conducted its third national population census, the number of male births for every 100 females was 108.47; in 1990, it rose to 111; in 2000, it was 119 and in 2005, it jumped to 120.49, 13. The male population at that point was 13 percent higher than that of females.

“In a short period of over 20 years, the gender imbalance has expanded quickly from eastern provinces to western, from rural areas to urban cities. Now it has almost covered the whole country,” Yuan Xin said. In 1982, only 18 provinces had a relatively high sex ratio while in 2005, all provinces, except Tibet, had a high sex ratio and three provinces had a ratio exceeding 130.

The gender imbalance will not only produce a large number of single young men, but also will give rise to a series of social problems.

Based on statistics provided by the National Bureau of Statistics, with the size of the male population aged zero to 19 being 23 million more than that of the female population, in the next ten years, every year there will be 1.2 million more men reaching marriageable age than women, forcing the former to seek wives in less-developed regions or search for younger females. The final result will be that young men in poor areas will be edged out of the marriage market, which, according to Tian Xueyuan who is the deputy director of the China Population Association, will give rise to a black market of “wife selling” and thus threaten social stability.

In recent years, 36,000 women have been sold and sent to Zhejiang Province to marry local men, statistics from the local public security bureau show. Most of these women are from underdeveloped regions like Yunnan, Guizhou, Sichuan and Hubei.

In the mountainous area connecting Guangxi Province and Vietnam where the economy is poor, men are forced to marry brides who have illegally entered China from Vietnam.

“The narrowing of the marriage market has produced a large number of single men. What is worse, it is the impoverished who are bearing the consequences,” Tian Xueyuan said.

The gender imbalance will also give a heavy blow to the job market. A textile factory owner, Yuan Xin, who is doing business in Guangzhou, Hangzhou and Shanghai said, said the sex ratio in many textile factories has reached up to four to six males per one female; some factories have even closed due to a lack of female laborers. Yaun Xin said that excess of male laborers would intensify the competition in the job market and make it even more difficult for women to find jobs. Additionally, because of the shortage of females, in some sectors, men would have to take positions which formerly belonged to women, while in some other sectors, men would face more severe competition.

What has caused such an unbalanced sex ratio? The answer is multi-faceted.

One answer is the advanced technology which allows people to know the sex of fetuses when a woman is only four-months pregnant or even less. Male fetuses will kept alive while female fetuses will be aborted.

The technology, called type-B ultrasonic, though prohibited by Chinese laws to be used on pregnant women, is still available in some clinics in Chinese cities, towns and villages, especially in some villages surrounded by cities.

Those clinics, always disguised to be lawful outpatient hospitals or pharmaceutical stores, will inspect the sex of the fetus through a B-type ultrasonic ultrasound and if it is a female, they will ask a doctor, who works for a local hospital and wants to earn extra money, to perform an abortion.

But that is not the complete answer.

“The core of the problem lies in the traditional view which holds that men more important than women,” Tian Xueyuan said.

Though the Chinese government has made it clear that women are equal to men under law, many Chinese parents and families still consider men more important than women and boys better than girls because men are more capable of supporting families and will continue the family line.

According to Yang Juhua, a professor with Renmin University, the unequal social status between male and females is still obvious in Chinese society. Aside from education levels, women are still suffering from disadvantages in many fields. Their wages are still lower than that of men in same-level positions and they are more likely to be refused when competing for university acceptance or job vacancies with male peers with the same qualifications. Additionally, Chinese women play a much weaker role in state affairs than their foreign counterparts. Females only account for one fifth of the total officials in government, party organizations and public agencies,

Edited by Rose Scobie | Original Source People\’s Daily

 

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