NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


July 13, 2004

Future social unrest and even military campaigns will result from tens of millions of young Chinese and Indian men not being able to marry or have children, say authors Valerie Hudson and Andrea den Boer.

Prenatal sex selection became available in Asia in the mid- to late-1980s. Although identification of the sex of a fetus, as well as sex-selective abortion, is illegal throughout Asia, the imbalance of boys and girls in the younger generations continues to worsen in many of these countries:

  • For example, in China the sex ratio for children up through age 4 is over 120:100 (120 boys for every 100 girls), according to the 2000 census.
  • In India the sex ratio for children up through age 6 has increased over the past decade from 105.8 to 107.9; however, certain Indian states have much worse ratios -- 126 in Punjab, for example.
  • By comparison, a normal sex ratio for this age group is 105 boys per 100 girls, and may be even lower.

The authors suggest that boys born in 1985 (who will be celebrating their 19th birthday) will need to be preoccupied. Consequently:

  • Governments will more likely create military campaigns to absorb and occupy these youths.
  • There is a greater likelihood that authoritarian political systems will be developed, as young men band together in gangs to achieve their goals.
  • There will be greater violence against women, whether via rape or abduction, in order for the young men to fulfill their sexual desires.

Source: Felicia R. Lee, "Engineering More Sons Than Daughters: Will It Tip the Scales Towards War?" New York Times, July 3, 2004; Valerie M. Hudson and Andrea den Boer "'Bare Branches' and Danger in Asia," July 4, 2004; based upon Valerie Hudson, Andrea den Boer, "Bare Branches: The Security implications of Asia's Surplus Male Population," MIT Press, May 2004.

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