Where No Man Has Gone Before

There are 120+ little boys for every 100 little girls in China & Northern India. This is because baby girl fetuses are aborted and newborn baby girls are killed in the quest for sons. When the boys get old enough to care, they will find a female shortage. The world has never experienced anything like this before. What will be the social ramifications? Imbalances in the other direction are common. Men have been killed disproportionately in hazardous occupations and in wars. After a big conflict or in some particularly warlike societies, there might be two or three times as many women as men. This was one of the justifications for polygamy and that adaption meant that within very broad boundaries the smaller number of males made no difference in the reproductive success of the population. In these situations, one man is able and usually willing to do the work or three or five. It doesn’t work like that for women. Young men are responsible for most of the violence in any given society and they don’t settle down until they have established themselves in relationships with females. Evolutionary theory explains this very well. They are wild and crazy because they are competing for reproductive success, even if our modern societies sublimate and mask what is going on. Even if we forget about the Darwinian aspects of this situation, the social ramifications are significant.

In 2020, there will be 30-40 million more Chinese men than women in the age groups when they care about those things. For comparison, there are only 23 million boys below the age of twenty in Germany, France and UK combined. That means that essentially China will have more than the whole young male population of these countries w/o girlfriends. Worldwide the estimate is that there will be something like 90 million more men at the key reproductive ages by 2020.

What happens when there are lots of men and not many women? In Roman history, we have the rape of the Sabine women, where young men of Rome just went out and kidnapped women from neighboring tribes. This, in fact, is the way the problem has been handled until modern times. But in these cases they were talking about local shortages.

There is some hope that this will be a passing trend and in the long run relative scarcity will improve the status of women. Already in India dowry prices are falling. Women may be able to get a better deal if there are many more men available.

In the classic movie, “Casablanca”, the French Captain Louis Renault chides Rick Blaine (the Humphrey Bogart character) for not paying proper attention to a female admirer. “How extravagant you are throwing away women like that. Someday they may be scarce,” Louis says. Maybe he was right, just a little ahead of the time.