June 5, 2009
The Wall Street Journal is running an interesting piece on the problems facing China's surplus of young bachelors. The background is that 30 years of the "one child policy" coupled with Chinese "son preference" has yielded "a surplus of 32 million males under the age of 20" by the most recent count. These men are now reaching a marriageable age and, lo and behold, there simply aren't enough women to go around as brides.
The result is that "bride prices" are increasing dramatically. To compensate, the article notes, "A study by Columbia University economist Shang-Jin Wei found that some areas in China with a high proportion of males have an above-average savings rate, even after accounting for factors such as education levels, income and life-expectancy rates. Areas with more men than women, the study notes, also have low spending rates -- suggesting that many rural Chinese may be saving up for bride prices." Unsurprisingly, these increasingly lucrative bride prices are causing increasingly common bride graft by means of "runaway brides" pocketing the money and leaving their new husbands.
This is just the beginning of the myriad problems China will face in the coming generation due to its one-child policy and the resulting sex imbalance. For more, see my article on the subject some years ago.