China’s missing women

8 Mar

China’s traditional and cultural son preference has been well documented. Infanticide and sex-selective abortion, although illegal in China, became a major problem after the introduction of the one-child policy. Many would-be parents made efforts to ensure they had a son as their only child which has resulted in skewed sex-ratios at birth and a major surplus of young men.

In China there is reportedly 35 million ‘missing’ women, and consequently tens of millions of men who face slim prospects of ever finding a wife (Branigan, 2011a). This problem is even more severe in poor or isolated rural areas where there are few unattached women (Branigan, 2011b). Many men therefore face strong likelihoods of growing old with no wives or children to support and care for them. Young Chinese women have more choice of potential husbands and therefore these women are less likely to choose poor men who are unable to provide for them, leaving this group of men unmarried.

Despite being a major problem for Chinese men, it could help to improve women’s status. Yound unmarried Chinese women are now more desirable which could help raise their status within society. On the other hand it could actually lead to increased gender inequalities as women could become viewed as more of a valuable material good, rather than as human beings.

References

Branigan, T. (2011a), China’s great gender crisis, [Guardian online] Available from: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2011/nov/02/chinas-great-gender-crisis [Accessed: 08/03/2014]

Branigan, T. (2011b), China’s village of bachelors: no wives in sight in remote settlement, [Guardian online] Available from: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2011/sep/02/china-village-of-bachelors [Accessed: 08/03/2014]

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