'Wife shortage' to hit nation in 2020s

By Li Fangchao (China Daily)
Updated: 2007-07-07 06:50

Today's boys may face a major problem when they become tomorrow's men - they will find it very difficult to get hitched, simply because there won't be enough women.

Sociologists are calling for swift measures to be taken to address the nation's growing gender ratio imbalance.

China now has 37 million more males than females, the People's Daily reported on Friday, without giving the source.

And the number of males below the age of 15 is 18 million more than females in the same age group, the report said.

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A census in 2000 showed that the gender ratio between female and male infants was 100 to 116.9, with this widening to 100 to 118.88 in 2005.

Regional disparity also exists, with some areas reporting a ratio of 100 to 138, such as southern China's Guangdong and Hainan provinces.

"Currently, the problem does not seem to be very serious," said Tian Xueyuan, deputy director of the China Population Society. "But if it remains unchecked, when they reach the marriage age, problems will occur."

Zheng Zhenzhen, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said that 10 percent of males may have difficulties finding a wife in two decades time.

"An imbalanced gender ratio will naturally lead to problems in terms of seeking spouses," Zheng said. "And less competitive males could be forced out."

Crimes targeting women are on the rise in some places where the imbalance is at its greatest, the report said, quoting sources with the National Population and Family Planning Commission.

Tian said that a deeply rooted traditional concept that "boys are better than girls" is the reason behind the imbalanced ratio.

"Agriculture has dominated China for thousands of years," he said. "In an economic sense, there is a far greater need for boys than girls in the fields."

(China Daily 07/07/2007 page1)

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