Skip to content

Its draining men… hallelujah?

20 June 2011

Writing on the skewering of the natural sex ratio of 105 males to every 100 female live births resulting mostly from sex selection abortions in India and China (and elsewhere) that have led to a world-wide gender imbalance of 107 males to every 100 females (and up to 150 males to every 100 females in some parts of China), Jonathan V. Last writes in Wall Street Journal:

There is … compelling evidence of a link between sex ratios and violence. High sex ratios mean that a society is going to have “surplus men”—that is, men with no hope of marrying because there are not enough women. Such men accumulate in the lower classes, where risks of violence are already elevated. And unmarried men with limited incomes tend to make trouble. In Chinese provinces where the sex ratio has spiked, a crime wave has followed. Today in India, the best predictor of violence and crime for any given area is not income but sex ratio.

The economist Gary Becker has noted that when women become scarce, their value increases, and he sees this as a positive development. But as [Mara Hvistendahl in “Unnatural Selection”] demonstrates, “this assessment is true only in the crudest sense.” A 17-year-old girl in a developing country is in no position to capture her own value. Instead, a young woman may well become chattel, providing income either for their families or for pimps.

There probably is a lot of truth in this, that communities (or cultures, or nations) with a surplus of unattached men have higher rates of violence.  Think of the “wild west”, where at least in the movies about the only available women available were the schoolmarm and prostitutes.  I’ve said before that the violence in the border communities is at least partially due to their “wild west” demographics, more in the sense that they are largely floating communities with a lot of younger, unattached adults, than having a skewered gender ratio.

Mexico is unusual in that the gender ratio is skewered the opposite way.  Overall, the population is slightly skewered towards females (0.96 men for every woman) and in the Federal District and Oaxaca, there is a much more noticeable difference (both having almost 109 FEMALES to every 100 males).  In several other central Mexican states (Puebla, Guanajuato, Hidalgo, Michoacán, Morelos, Tlaxcala, Veracruz and Querétaro) are more than a reversal of the “normal” gender ratio, all having at least 106 females to every 100 males  (state statistics from Geo-Mexico).

While what statistics I can find on gender ratios suggest a normal 105 to 100 male to female ratio at birth, the “working age population” ratio is already skewered to females.  Unless boys are dying at an alarming rate, emigration might be the most likely cause.  As it is, there are entire communities in this country with nearly no adult men, which creates its own set of challenges, both for women, and for boys. 
If Ms. Hvistendahl is correct, that the absence of women creates conditions for violence, then we should expect violence to drop, at least in those states with the “surplus females”.  On the other hand, if Becker is right, then perhaps women need to worry about their future economic value.

Perhaps Mexico is once again an exception to the rules, or perhaps the Chinese and the Indians will need to develop a taste for wresting movies, Judy Garland and …. er… artistic pursuits while in central Mexico the women will have to wait for something unexpected:

No comments yet

Leave a reply, but please stick to the topic

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s