Chick Shortage

The two big cultures on the most populous continent both prize males above females. Modern medical technology permitting sex selective abortions turned this age old preference into a major undersupply of females in the population. The Straits Times has a big story on it.

A combination of cultural preferences, government decree and modern medical technology in the world's two largest countries has created a gender imbalance on a continental scale. Men outnumber women by 70 million in China and India.
The consequences of having too many men, now coming of age, are far-reaching: Beyond an epidemic of loneliness, the imbalance distorts labour markets, drives up savings rates in China and drives down consumption, artificially inflates certain property values, and parallels increases in violent crime, trafficking or prostitution in a growing number of locations.
I found the story interesting throughout, but I want to focus on just one aspect.  The shortage of women has driven up savings rates in China and driven them down in India.  Why so?

The answer seems to lie in the fact that marriage in China is expected to be accompanied by a bride price - a payment from the groom's family to the bride's.  In India,  bride's families are expected to supply a dowry.  Thus, the shortage of women has driven up bride prices in China while driving down dowries in India, and Chinese families need to save like crazy to marry off their sons while Indian families find daughters in high demand regardless.

I think these facts may shed some light on the point of these customs.  In a sex balanced, natural society, both customs have the effect of promoting savings to get the new family off to a good start, but when the sex ratio tilts, things go awry.

Of course this is only one relatively minor problem among the many in societies where a large number of men can't find mates.


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