Trying to figure out how China will deal with its millions of single men and how it will finally convince its rural populations that girls aren’t that bad a choice will always be very interesting to us. But a recent resurgence in the gender gap discussion has got us scratching our heads. Why exactly is the figure of 24 million single men only a bad thing?
According to a recent Chinese news piece, a Chinese Academy of Social Science study found that 24 million men may fail to find a spouse in 2020. The news has now been parroted by at least 100 other publications, which tut tut our future “nation of bachelors” while going into some of the societal implications this gender gap will have.
For instance, the BBC highlighted that “the growing imbalance means that forced prostitution and human trafficking has become “rampant” in some parts of the country, according to the researchers.” While The Times Online pointed out that “The surplus of bachelors — known as “bare branches” — in the rural areas has been described by senior officials as a problem that could lead to a surge in crime and social instability.”
That’s all very possible and we agree with it, but if “24 million” really is the new figure for the amount of projected single guys in China’s future, then isn’t this piece of news actually good? Just last April, studies asserted that China had 32 million more boys than girls under the age of 20.
The study back then by the British Medical Journal said that China can expect to see “very high and steadily worsening sex ratios in the reproductive age group over the next two decades,” and caused us to dismally conclude that there was “no bridge in site” to this ever increasing chasm.
That means that in the span of just nine months, the projected mass of bachelors has already shrunk by 8 million dudes. While there’s always the possibility that one of the studies is way off, we’re hoping what this disparity really means is that various government initiatives around the nation to enhance education, offer subsidies and training for girls are actually working. The Times article mentioned that the gender imbalance had begun to slow in late 2006.
Is 24 million bachelors still a huge problem? Yes. Is the continual tragedy of aborting fetuses because they’re female disgusting and frustrating? Of course. But isn’t the happy disappearance of 8 million future men worth investigating as much as how the one child policy contributed to this problem in the first place?