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Consequences of Sex Selection?
#1

Consequences of Sex Selection?

The author Matt Ridley raises an interesting paradox here. Countries like China have long been practicing sex selection, since in the culture men contribute much more to the economy than women [the effects on China's economy have been evident, even if it's headed for a hard plateau], but that kind of imbalance can't be good for civil unrest and the psychology of the male population. The question is: how do you balance sex ratios with economic productivity in a world where men are vastly greater contributors to the the economy than women?

According to the article, wealthier families are especially more prone to this selection since they deliberately plan smaller families and can more easily have abortions performed on female fetuses.

Does this mean that the wealthier the citizenry of a country (like China) become, the smaller/more screwed up in terms of gender ratio the next generations are? Further, does the new generation, with its small size, have the ability to support a larger aging population if it has a greater percentage of males and more economic output?

According to the article, there should be 32 million more women than there are currently on earth today.


He suggests "prizing daughters" and "gender job equality" as a way of reversing this trend, but we've already seen what that, when taken to an extreme, can do here in America.

EDIT: And, if the predominantly male society does produce a thriving economy, wouldn't that create more wealthy families, who simply continue this sex selection practice until the gender imbalance becomes unbearable? Shouldn't poor families, desperate to escape penury, also be incentivized to produce sons? It looks like no matter the economic state in China, good or bad, people are going to exacerbate this imbalance. Even if China didn't have a restriction on the number of children in families,

http://www.rationaloptimist.com/blog/dis...-sex-ratio

Quote: (02-09-2012 03:11 PM)Matt Ridley Wrote:  

Even a rational optimist is pessimistic about some things. Here's one: the gradual distortion of the human sex ratio by sex-selective abortion. A new essay by the demographer Nicholas Eberstadt concludes that "the practice has become so ruthlessly routine in many contemporary societies that it has impacted their very population structures." He finds "ample room for cautious pessimism" in the fact that this phenomenon is still very much on the increase.

For obscure reasons, the human sex ratio is always slightly male-biased, but in the natural state it rarely goes above 105 male births per 100 female ones, except in small samples. In China's last mini-census in 2005, the ratio was nearly 120 to 100 and in some districts over 150. That this is caused by sex-selective abortion (and not, for example, by a hepatitis-B epidemic, which can favor male births) is proved by a ratio of 107 to 100 among first-born children but nearer 150 among ones born later.

China is not the only country where this is happening. By the early 21st century, all four Asian "tigers"—South Korea, Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan—had a "naturally impossible" ratio of 108 or higher. India has an increasing ratio, as high as 120 in some states. Even some European and central Asian countries (including Albania, Georgia and even Italy) have unnaturally male-biased births. Nearly half the world falls in this category.

For 2005 to 2010, the United Nations puts the world sex ratio at birth at 107 boys to 100 girls. Assuming 105 is natural, Dr. Eberstadt calculates that this translates into a global "girl deficit" of at least 32 million. The consequences, in terms of unmarried and perhaps disruptive men, may be serious and long-lasting.

The phenomenon apparently gets worse with prosperity. Countries like Vietnam have shown male-biased birth ratios only since starting to grow rapidly richer. An analysis by Christophe Guilmoto and Sébastien Oliveau has shown that, in China and India, the problem is more acute in fairly rich regions.

[Image: 20111213_EberstadtFigure21000w.jpg]


Why? As people get richer, they plan smaller families, and those who have had a girl first are prepared to go to great lengths to ensure having a boy the next time. Economic growth also means more access to ultrasound scanning and abortion. Female infanticide after birth still happens, but it is both psychologically harder than abortion and less easy to disguise as a medical necessity.

Of course, near-perfect sex selection can be achieved with in-vitro fertilization (by implanting only male embryos), but this will remain a luxury of the very rich. What about sperm selection? A clinical trial getting under way in the U.S. will test a method for sorting human sperm into X (female determining) and Y (male) types; it's already used in animals such as dairy cattle with 93% accuracy. If this method becomes cheap, it's easy to imagine clinics offering it in China and India.

Policy seems largely powerless to fight this problem. Sex-selective abortion is illegal in virtually all countries. China's authoritarian "one-child policy" is in marked contrast with India's more laissez-faire attitude to family planning, yet both have produced widespread killing of female fetuses.

All of this presupposes a continuing general preference for boys in such societies, something that should eventually wane as their economies develop more equal employment opportunities. Given the way in which technology is evolving to make sex selection easier, perhaps the only short-term hope is to shame people. South Korea's sex ratio at birth reached 115 to 100 in the 1990s but has since fallen back to 107, thanks to what Mr. Eberstadt calls a "spontaneous and largely uncoordinated congealing of a mass movement for honoring, protecting and prizing daughters."
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#2

Consequences of Sex Selection?

Quote: (02-09-2012 05:14 PM)YoungGunner Wrote:  

Shouldn't poor families, desperate to escape penury, also be incentivized to produce sons? It looks like no matter the economic state in China, good or bad, people are going to exacerbate this imbalance.

While those in the upper classes would prefer sons as they are more capable of continuing on whatever legacy their families have,
I would think that those in the lower classes would be better off with daughters. Women can more easily increase their own social status by marrying up in social class. I guess it depends on how much the upper class parents care about the social status of their daughters-in-law (since their sons probably don't). Either way, it's eventually going to reach a tipping point where the society is so overrun with men that it's better for a family to have a daughter to take advantage of supply and demand.
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#3

Consequences of Sex Selection?

I've been thinking about gender ratios lately, partly inspired by a new blog on the subject - http://ratiofactor.blogspot.com/ .

Quote:Quote:

Policy seems largely powerless to fight this problem.

This is wrong. I'm sure there are policies that could address the problem. Here's one I thought of: For every parent who wants a boy, have two girls born. If the Wangs want a baby with a wang, well, they'll have to find two couples who will each agree to have a daughter. The Wangs would probably have to compensate the Chans and the Lees for agreeing to have a daughter. If birth via fertility clinic became more common, assuming an effective regulatory regime, the state would have an unprecedented level of control over birthing. Genetically modified embryos might become very popular, so this is a possibility. If such a policy were enacted, men would become status objects, effectively. Doesn't sound so bad [Image: wink.gif]

Balancing ratios with economic productivity is an interesting question, because like you said men are much more productive. But even if you had perfect control over sex ratios, straying too far from a 1 to 1 ratio in either direction is probably very dangerous. Besides, focusing on economic productivity uber alles is retarded. Everyone but economists would trade a small loss in economic productivity in return for a large improvement in quality of life.

It also seems that sex ratios vary across races, and the variance might be due to genetic differences. So it may not be appropriate to expect Asians to have an identical sex ratio to European or African sex ratios.

And apparently Liechtenstein is a pussy paradise.
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#4

Consequences of Sex Selection?

It's a tough call. It's not a sustainable state of affairs to allow the gender ratio to become excessively skewed, but I also I think the argument for abortion rights that you can't justify forcing a woman to carry a pregnancy to term and give birth is a very strong one. Besides, what's to stop a woman from getting a sex-selective abortion and claiming it was for other reasons?

I think it's a much easier call to say that selecting the sex of your child with IVF should not be allowed. It doesn't raise anywhere near the same concerns about violating women's right to bodily autonomy, and in my opinion the potential for harm that having too many males would cause outweighs any concern about restricting people's liberty.

On an unrelated note, check out Ridley's The Red Queen if you haven't already. It's probably the most well-written of the popular-level books on evolutionary psychology and a lot of the stuff he writes about is very relevant to understanding why game works.
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#5

Consequences of Sex Selection?

Quote: (02-09-2012 05:36 PM)Snipes Wrote:  

Quote: (02-09-2012 05:14 PM)YoungGunner Wrote:  

Shouldn't poor families, desperate to escape penury, also be incentivized to produce sons? It looks like no matter the economic state in China, good or bad, people are going to exacerbate this imbalance.

While those in the upper classes would prefer sons as they are more capable of continuing on whatever legacy their families have,
I would think that those in the lower classes would be better off with daughters. Women can more easily increase their own social status by marrying up in social class. I guess it depends on how much the upper class parents care about the social status of their daughters-in-law (since their sons probably don't). Either way, it's eventually going to reach a tipping point where the society is so overrun with men that it's better for a family to have a daughter to take advantage of supply and demand.

This is true. If the poor family simply wants whats best for their bloodline they'd have no problem having daughters and marrying them off. I agree with you there, and there are certainly many families in China who think that way, though I'm sure cultural differences from region to region need to be accounted for. However, many poorer families also probably want to break into "the good life," and I think they would rather rely on a son to pay them back rather than a son-in-law. Once again though, I'm not that familiar with that aspect of Chinese family culture.

Interestingly though, if you take a look at the sex ratios around the world, it looks like there's another reason China's investing/sending workers to Africa: they have an excess of men and Africa has an (expected) excess of women:

[Image: 800px-Sex_ratio_below_15_per_country_smooth.png]

EDIT: Just looking at the map though once again emphasizes the differences in wealth that can be brought upon nations (not exclusively) by gender ratios. China, with one of the fastest rates of economic growth is male skewed, whereas the poorer countries in Africa are female-skewed. Ignoring the histories of the countries and cultural differences, it really is an interesting tradeoff to consider.

Quote: (02-09-2012 05:36 PM)basilransom Wrote:  

Everyone but economists would trade a small loss in economic productivity in return for a large improvement in quality of life.

It's true. It's really interesting to think whether or not a balanced gender population, even though it would be less productive in the short term than one with lots of males, would create a happy, peaceful, prosperous, citizenry that's actually also economically productive than that one with too many males. I personally think keeping a balance of gender establishes a healthy environment more prone to economic growth in the long term than one that produces too many males for growth in the short term.

Quote: (02-09-2012 05:38 PM)gringochileno Wrote:  

It's a tough call. It's not a sustainable state of affairs to allow the gender ratio to become excessively skewed, but I also I think the argument for abortion rights that you can't justify forcing a woman to carry a pregnancy to term and give birth is a very strong one. Besides, what's to stop a woman from getting a sex-selective abortion and claiming it was for other reasons?

I think it's a much easier call to say that selecting the sex of your child with IVF should not be allowed. It doesn't raise anywhere near the same concerns about violating women's right to bodily autonomy, and in my opinion the potential for harm that having too many males would cause outweighs any concern about restricting people's liberty.

On an unrelated note, check out Ridley's The Red Queen if you haven't already. It's probably the most well-written of the popular-level books on evolutionary psychology and a lot of the stuff he writes about is very relevant to understanding why game works.

Ironically, if there were no regulations on child birth to begin with in China, the ratios would work themselves out by biological statistics. But, since the abortions and infanticides have wiped out so many females from the population that were already born/conceived, meaning that they're not statistically overdue for more females being born, they might have to resort to something like Basil suggested. And yeah, I'm about to order Red Queen along with Ridley's other books. I've got a big wish list of books I want to blaze through.
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#6

Consequences of Sex Selection?

Also worth noting: China's male-skewed/ gender imbalanced demographic right now is the under 15 years old bracket: 1.17

That means that in China for every girl under the age of 15, there are 1.17 males under the age of 15. That's the biggest discrepancy of any country in the world, and has serious implications in the upcoming years. Whether you look at it as a niche market for Chinese dating/expats, the productivity of the Chinese economy, or the civil/social state of China, this is something to keep an eye on.
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#7

Consequences of Sex Selection?

to fix this, we need to genetically engineer stupid, easy, big-breasted, fertile women and mass-clone them. I'm all for this.
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