The Consequences of Choosing Boys Over Girls

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Mara Hvistendahl looks at the consequences of sex selection in China and at Western complicity with the policies. The port city Lianyungang has China's most extreme gender ratio for children under four: 163 boys for every 100 girls. In ten years, the skewed sex ratio will pose a colossal challenge—historically, eras in which there have been an excess of men have produced periods of violent conflict and instability. In Unnatural Selection: Choosing Boys over Girls and the Consequences of a World Full of Men she shows how gender imbalance reaches far beyond Asia, affecting Georgia, Eastern Europe, and cities in the U.S. where there are significant immigrant populations, and she examines how this mismatch is likely to create profound social upheaval.


Mara Hvistendahl

Comments [20]

DWornock from USA

It is simple enough. Just reverse some of the laws. When they get married the property, earnings and inheritance of the husband belong to the wife and her parents. If the wife move in with the husband's parents, deed to the inlaws property is given to the wife. In the event of divorce, the children, and 1/4th of any future earning and inheritance of the husband go to the exwife.

Jul. 03 2013 09:19 AM
Aaron Hughes from Brooklyn

Males are physically capable of reproducing more than females. In some rare cases a single male can even produce hundreds of offspring (Genghis Khan for example) whereas a woman is limited to only as many children as her body can handle. The preference for males might be a subconscious calculation of the odds of carrying on one's own genes.

Jun. 16 2011 09:06 PM

Can this journalist speak any slower? I'm sure she is very versed on her subject but the way she responds sounds like she has no idea what she is talking about. Some people are just not good interviewees. Sorry Mara.

Jun. 16 2011 02:48 PM
Nii from NJ

I am a fun of your show and the topic for discussion is great especial since i am an immigrant. However, it painful listening to your guest because she seems to drag her feet longer in responding to your question. this makes listening to the show uncomfortable and raises the question if she is adequately knowledgeable on the subject. Can she please be spontaneous? i don't mean no harm.

Jun. 16 2011 12:55 PM
John A.

re: contending that "Fetus is {not} a life"

I don't think Mara can have that point.
The legal dividing line is usually referred to as "Fetus is not a person".

Jun. 16 2011 12:44 PM
Amy from Manhattan

Josh, I think cultural change is a lot harder than that, & if later generations have more girls than earlier ones, we're likely to see a lot of "child bride" situations, with what amounts to child rape within those marriages.

Jun. 16 2011 12:36 PM
J from Columbia U

This also happens in America (and other "Western" countries) in a more subtle way-- girls have a higher average number of siblings than boys. How is this possible? It is simple. American families are more likely to have additional children when they have only girls. But they are more likely to stop having children when boys are born.

One consequence of this is that females, on average, have less family resources and inheritance than males do.

Jun. 16 2011 12:28 PM
Louise from NJ

In India, some parents may favor boys because they hope to live with the son in their old age. Also, dowries may still be an issue in some families. This can be an added expense for parents of girls.

Jun. 16 2011 12:27 PM
Fredo from Stamford

I have a feeling that sex selection might have something to do with carrying on the family name, in addition to being "bread winners". If women could pass the family name then I'm willing to bet female abortions will decrease.

Jun. 16 2011 12:26 PM
Bernard from Bronx

How about the role of the "dowry" in all of this?

Jun. 16 2011 12:25 PM
Bob from NJ

The population of China has increased by ONE BILLION PEOPLE in just the last 100 years. Population growth worldwide is no longer sustainable. Anything that would reduce population growth in the world is a good thing.

Jun. 16 2011 12:25 PM
Josh from Washington Heights

This interview is so frustrating to listen to. The most important question "So what?" is not being addressed. So what if there are more boys than girls in these countries? What are the implications? Get to that level of Q/A. The author simply acknowledges that this gender selection is going on but we already knew that. Tell us what the implications will be down the road. I can imagine a future in these countries where the women will benefit and be given huge dowries and then everyone will want a girl. Get to the implications.

Jun. 16 2011 12:24 PM
Michael D. D. White from Brooklyn Heights

It seems like this show should be considered in conjunction with the very recent Brian Lehrer segment to the effect that women are better than men at just about everything. See: Brian Lehrer Show
Girls Rule, Boys Drool
Monday, June 13, 2011

"Dan Abrams, legal analyst for Good Morning America and ABC News, as well as founder of the Abrams Media Network, discusses his new book, Man Down: Proof Beyond a Reasonable Doubt that Women are Better Cops, Drivers, Gamblers, Spies, World Leaders, Beer Tasters, Hedge Fund Managers and Just About Everything Else."

Jun. 16 2011 12:21 PM

Of course, the world did not need technology for sex-selection: the traditional, time-tested method: give birth and if it's a girl, take the infant on her first & last walk down to the river...

Jun. 16 2011 12:19 PM

Give females equal education, expectations, responsibility, and pay.

Jun. 16 2011 12:16 PM
jgarbuz from Queens

It is only natural that in mostly rural, agricultural-based societies, that more man power was deemed a plus, while woman power was a negative. But modern economies, where brawn is virtually irrelevant, and nearly all jobs can be done equally well by members of either gender, the relative value of a male child over a female child no longer exists. Neither has a natural advantage over the other. And since women are the possessors of the womb, they are fully in control of what happens next.

Jun. 16 2011 12:15 PM

The solution is simple: Start paying females equally. Parents will want them more if their economic prospects are equal.

Jun. 16 2011 12:11 PM

The sex ratio imbalance in China is the unfortunate result of the government's one-child policy combined with the cultural tradition of sons supporting elderly parents, while married daughters are expected to care for her husbands parents,.

Jun. 16 2011 12:07 PM
sumukha from Short Hills NJ

In India the skewed ration is increasing more violence towards women, more sex trafficking and kidnappings in some norther Indian states. also the more educated and prosperous the family is the more chances are of them choosing to abort female fetus.

Jun. 16 2011 11:06 AM
Patrick from Bronx

What does the preference for boys over girls foreshadow concerning the singles scene in China and similar countries?

Jun. 16 2011 06:43 AM

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