The huge and rapidly growing imbalance in China’s ratio of males to females has been known for some time, but surveys reveal Chinese themselves are now acutely aware of the impending demographic crisis:
“There are 36 boys in our son’s class, and only 19 girls. We worry as to whether he can ever find a wife like this…”
The imbalance, generally attributed to the one child per family policy and a deep seated prejudice against the value of girls as heirs causing female infants to be killed or aborted, has long been of concern to demographers.
Estimates suggest that in 2005 there were already 32 million more males than females amongst the younger generations, with some fearing the potential for the imbalance to balloon to over a hundred million in the decades to come; a rapidly increasing aged population further compounds the issue.
Officials in charge of the one child program deny a significant imbalance exists, and provide their own dubious statistics in support of this, but concerns over the problem are now keenly felt by the population at large, with male Chinese being well aware they may face a future without marriage.
A survey which asked some 900 Chinese “do you feel the gender balance around you is equal?” yielded unambiguous results: 73.1% said they felt men were “plainly more numerous than women,” and only 13.7% felt the sexes to equally balanced.
Unsurprisingly, 59.7% thought there would be a negative influence on their ability to marry.
Some Chinese worry that the nation may already be headed into decline even in the midst of its promising if unsustainable growth, as a future where countless millions of men are denied any prospect of marriage may prove socially disastrous.