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Saturday, January 28, 2006

Bare Branches and Hypergyny

I read a recent scholarly report that was in no small terms provocative as well as elucidating in its analysis and conclusion. It adds a new dimension, for those who are interested, to the many subtle dynamics and complexities of Chinese society. It points out that the scale on which sex ratios being artificially altered today in Asia, especially in China, (since the onset of prenatal offspring sex selection around 1985 and the one child policy) are unprecedented in history. That within 20 years or so China may have as many as 40 million bare-branches—bachelors who will never be able to marry—and that the implications of such a number are profound. The authors purport and demonstrate via historical examples in Portugal and China, and others, that a sex ratio of approximately 120 males per 100 females or more in any country is inherently unstable, that in those areas where the sex ratio is extremely disproportionate tend to be more violent, i.e. Uttar Pradesh in India. The China Academy of Social Sciences reported in1999 a sex ratio of 120, with journalists and scholars reports citing a ratio of between 131 and 400 between 1995 and 2000, depending on a particular region/town. With such an abundance of males, this naturally gives rise to hypergyny, or the "marrying up" of women at marriage age. This disproportionate demographic shift does not bode well for China's future and indeed will come to be a pressing issue for the government. To deal with these bare branches, countries with high ratios will tend towards more authoritarian systems of governing, which offers a bleak outlook for the development of democracy in China (which I am, in fact, against at the moment anyway). And further presents the ominous question of what to ...If you are interested in reading more, click the Read More! link below.

Bare branches, or guang gunr, tend to congregate together, especially amongst the 200 million strong floating population in China. They are likely to be from the lowest socio-economic class, be un— or under—employed, and live a transient lifestyle with few ties to communities in which they are working. Guang gunrs, living a life of forced celibacy, are an outcast subculture and are predisposed to organized social banditry. Basically they have no face to lose and are proven to be more ‘testosteronized’ than the married, sedentary man and thus they are more prone to seek satisfaction through vice and violence. Take this to its logical end and the prospect of war to obtain riches and status through looting and pillaging is highly attractive.

The development of a large floating population was always a harbinger of increasing social unrest in historical China and guang gunrs truly add fuel to that flame. In fact, most protests in China occur today because of the disparity between rich and poor, between those privileged and those not. Add to this that China is a society with an acute unequal resource distribution, and the future looks bleak.

So, how will China deal with this pressing issue in the future? According to the report, there are only three choices since even prosperity is no panacea: Fight them, encourage their self-destruction, or deport them. The gov’t may wish to see them used in pursuit of national interest rather than allow them remain to be a threat to national interests. This may in fact be why the gov’t clamped down so hard on the Falun Gong: their major source of recruits is the unemployed.


  • In fact, i don't agree with what the scholar said about the sex ratio in China. Just think it, if a couple want to have a boy, then they will give birth to child until it is a boy, then maybe they will get a four or five girls and one boy! so i think the number of female will exceed the male a lot!!

    By Anonymous , at 7:33 AM, November 29, 2006  

  • That's a good point and thanks for the comment! The evidence that supports their argument is that many couples are using technology (ultrasounds) to find out early whether or not the baby is a boy or a girl. If it's a girl, then they have a very cheap abortion and try again later.

    And just think, how are the poor parents going to supply the dowries, pay for the weddings, feed, and clothe all of those girls?! Plus, they are only allowed two children, after which they face fines and their children do not get a hukou, thus being entirely extralegal, with no rights, no proof of "existence".

    Nevertheless, it is possible that they keep them all.

    By Blogger justin fabish, at 4:01 AM, November 30, 2006  

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