Professor discusses Asia’s male surplus


    By Chantal Lapicola

    By the year 2020 there will be about 30 million more men than women in China and India, a BYU professor said Wednesday Sept. 17, 2003.

    Political science professor Valerie Hudson explained her research about the male surplus problem in Asia at a lecture sponsored by the David M. Kennedy Center for International Studies.

    Hudson”s work has been featured in USA Today and on the “Today Show.”

    Hudson studied the sex ratio of seven Asian countries: India, China, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Taiwan, South Korea and Japan.

    “In Asia, 100 million women were not born that should have been,” Hudson said.

    It is illegal for doctors to tell expectant parents the sex of their babies in Asian countries; however, doctors have established ways of letting parents know the sex anyway, she said.

    “If the doctor lights a cigarette, then the couple is having a boy. If the doctor doesn”t light a cigarette, then they are having a girl,” she said.

    If a family does have a girl, they often treat her as an outcast, since she will usually marry young and go live far away with her husband and his family, Hudson said.

    “The most effective policy for helping the male surplus problem has been social security benefits,” Hudson said. “Since it is usually the son”s responsibility to take care of the aging parents, if there is no tangible payoff to have a son, then the sex ratio would even out.”

    Men who remain unmarried in these countries tend to be “lower-status” and transient. Because they are less literate and less skilled than married men, they often get together and form gangs, Hudson said.

    “Single males lack motivation to do positive things; women motivate them,” a student who attended the lecture said.

    Studies have shown that when men are in a stable relationship with a woman, their testosterone levels decrease. When testosterone levels get too high, men can become more violent, Hudson said.

    “In countries where these young males congregate together, they tend to engage in riskier and illegal behavior in groups. There is more vice and substance abuse, they are more violent, there are more robberies, thefts, rapes, accidents, and DUIs,” Hudson said.

    Governments of Asian countries have had to find a way to deal with the surplus of men.

    “The government can”t afford to be democratic; they need a heavier hand,” Hudson said.

    Throughout history, these governments have formed allegiances with the unmarried men to keep them from rebelling. They have encouraged migration to foreign countries, created large public work projects in the country and have sent the men abroad on military adventures, Hudson said.

    The desire for boys in Asia has caused an alarming rate of infanticide, since abortion is often too expensive for parents, Hudson said.

    Instead of trying to fix the male surplus problem, families have resorted to kidnapping women to marry their sons and have even smuggled female babies to raise as wives for their sons, Hudson said.

    While the birth ratios in Taiwan and South Korea have been improving, ratios in Pakistan, Bangladesh, China, and India have continued to get worse, Hudson said.

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