Friday, February 02, 2007

Too Many Boys

Yesterday my friend Jake sent me a very interesting essay by Herbert Meyer titled What In the World Is Going On? A Global Intelligence Briefing for CEOs. The article addresses four major transformations the author believes are shaping political, economic, and world events, each of which he contends has "profound implications for American business owners, our culture, and our way of life." The four transformations are The War in Iraq, The Emergence of China, Shifting Demographics of Western Civilization, and Restructuring of American Business. Today, I'd like to look at the shifting demographics issue.

It's no secret that the American population is getting older as the birthrate falls and the existing population ages. The same is true in Western Europe and, to a far greater extent, Japan. This has profound implications for the social fabric and the economies of these regions, as fewer young workers will be earning the money and paying the taxes to support an ever-increasing elderly population which requires a wide range of social and medical services. But another problem, which has been quietly noted for some time, is the growing surplus of boys, particularly in Asia.

Many families in Asia prefer to have boys, who can go to work and help support the family, rather than girls, who are viewed as less valuable. This preference, coupled with technologies which allow the sex of an unborn child to be determined during pregnancy, has greatly skewed the proportion of male to female births across Asia. In an article in the March/April 2006 issue of Foreign Policy magazine titled The Geopolitics of Sexual Frustration, Martin Walker analyzed the birthrates in various Asian countries. What he found was shocking: while Nature's general ratio is 105 male births to every 100 females, in China and parts of India that ratio is 120 to 100; in Taiwan it is 119/100, in South Korea it's 112/100, and in Singapore it's 118/100. In some regions of China, the disparity is even greater - as much as 136/100.

What does this mean? Essentially, that Asia will have an enormous surplus of young men who reach sexual maturity and are unable to find wives. And what will all these sexually frustrated young men do?

That's the sixty-four-thousand-dollar question. In his book The Lucifer Principle, Howard Bloom theorizes that women have historically selected mates on the basis of a capacity for violence that will protect them and their children. Is that true in a modern, industrialized society? Probably not, at least in general. But as more men contend for the favors of fewer women, things could probably change. Think about two drunks in a bar slugging it out over the privilege of wooing the same woman...and multiply it by millions. It's a scary thought.

So if you needed something else to worry about besides global warming and intolerant radical Islam, here it is. The face-off between an aging West and a young, overly male, and sexually frustrated East just might be the biggest problem our coming generations will face.

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.


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