Government & Politics
The Chronicle Review
Magazines & Journals
Grants & Fellowships
Facts & Figures
Issues in Depth
This Week's Issue
About The Chronicle
How to Contact Us
How to Register
How to Subscribe
Change Your User Name
Change Your Password
Forgot Your Password?
How to Advertise
The Mobile Chronicle
From the issue dated April 30, 2004
A Dangerous Surplus of Sons?
Two political scientists warn that Asia's lopsided sex ratios threaten
By DAVID GLENN
A body of Chinese poetry, The Book of
Songs, believed to date from 1000-700
B.C., offers this advice to new parents:
When a son is born
Let him sleep on the bed,
Clothe him with fine clothes.
And give him jade to play with. ...
When a daughter is born,
Let her sleep on the ground,
Wrap her in common wrappings,
And give her broken tiles for playthings.
In many parts of Asia, that advice appears to have stuck. Centuries
later, a strong preference for sons persists, enhanced by technology that
increasingly allows parents to realize their desires. Amniocentesis and
ultrasound can easily identify the sex of a fetus, and sex-selective
abortion has become an everyday practice. Daughters who are born are
frequently given up, and thousands are adopted out of the country every
year. On the horizon are inexpensive sperm-sorting techniques that will
guarantee a son even before conception. New technology, of course, is
not the only factor; in some rural areas, old-fashioned female
infanticide still lingers.
The reasons for the persistence of offspring sex selection, and the exact
numbers of pregnancies involved, have been hotly debated since the
early 1990s, when the economist Amartya Sen called attention to the
phenomenon of "missing women." By some social scientists' measure,
more than 100 million females are now missing from the populations of
India and China. Mr. Sen and others have argued that sex selection both
reflects and reinforces women's low social status, which -- beyond its
intrinsic cruelty -- impedes the development of democracy and
prosperity in male-skewed nations. Scholars and feminist organizations
in both Asia and the West have produced many volumes of often
conflicting advice about how to combat the practice.
Now two political scientists have joined the fray with an ominous
argument: Offspring sex selection could soon lead to war.
In a new book, Bare Branches: Security Implications of Asia's Surplus
Male Population (MIT Press), Valerie M. Hudson and Andrea M. den
Boer warn that the spread of sex selection is giving rise to a generation
of restless young men who will not find mates. History, biology, and
Chart: Showing how the
number of boys vastly
outnumber girls in countries
where sex-selective abortions
have become more common
Page 1 of 8The Chronicle: 4/30/2004: A Dangerous Surplus of Sons?
8/23/2006file://C:\Documents and Settings\sreinert\Local Settings\Temporary Internet Files\OLK4B1\The Chronicle ...
Copyright © 2004 by The Chronicle of Higher Education
SOURCE: Valerie M. Hudson and Andrea M. den Boer
Section: Research & Publishing
Volume 50, Issue 34, Page A14
Page 8 of 8 The Chronicle: 4/30/2004: A Dangerous Surplus of Sons?
8/23/2006 file://C:\Documents and Settings\sreinert\Local Settings\Temporary Internet Files\OLK4B1\The Chronicle ...