Gender Imbalance



crisis third (2) generation
mere pattern customs (2)
allow queue ferocious (2)
bare compare bachelordom
doom compete lead/led/led
as in potential preference
ratio abort (2) couple (2)
fetus extreme give birth
revise prenatal outnumber
caste fertility branch (2)
tend cohort accentuate
bride pile up screen (2)
go on distort right away
effect missing squeeze (2)
basic surplus requirement
harm violence associated






China and India, home to a third of humanity both face a marriage crisis that will last for generations.

A mere five years ago, marriage patterns were normal in the two countries.

Now in India, five-hundred year old laws and customs are being revised to allow men to marry out of caste, out of village and out of state, while in China, fifty-million so-called guangu or bare branches look doomed to bachelordom.

What’s led to the marriage squeeze?

First, millions of women have gone missing. A generation ago, a preference for sons and the greater availability of prenatal screening meant that first Chinese couples, then Indian ones, started aborting female fetuses, and only giving birth to boys.

At its extreme, in parts of Asia, more than a hundred and twenty (120) boys were being born for every hundred girls.

Now the generation with distorted sex ratios at birth is reaching marriageable age. The result is that men far outnumber women.

If China had had a normal sex ratio at birth, its female population in 2010 would have been seven-hundred and ten (710) million. In fact, it was only six-hundred-and-fifty-five (655) million, compared to almost seven-hundred-and-five (705) million men and boys — fifty (50) million surplus husbands.

Fertility rates then accentuate the distortion. When a country’s fertility is going down, as in India, young cohorts of people will tend to be smaller than older ones. If men are older than women at marriage, as they usually are, that means there will be fewer potential brides than husbands, because fewer women will have been born later, when fertility was lower.

Then there’s a queuing effect: men who can’t find a wife right away will go on looking and competing with younger men, as a result, the number of unmarried men piles up as in a queue.

By 2060, there could be more than a hundred-and-sixty (160) Chinese and Indian men wanting to marry, for every hundred women.

This is a ferocious squeeze in countries where marriage has always been a basic requirement for being a full member of society.

It could be hugely harmful: almost everywhere large numbers of single men are associated with high rates of crime and violence.

No one really knows how these two giant countries will react.


*     *     *     *     *     *     *



1. The marriage crisis is localized, trivial and insignificant. True or false?

2. Has this crisis always occurred, or is it a recent phenomenon?

3. “Now in India, five-hundred year old laws and customs are being revised to allow men to marry out of caste, out of village and out of state.” What does this mean or imply?

4. What does so-called “bare-branches” mean?

5. Describe the situation and its causes.

6. Is the imbalanced sex ration the only factor in the marriage crisis?

7. Are there potential consequences of masses of single men? What are the potential consequences?


A. What may happen in China and India?

B. Everyone in my community gets married. Yes or no?

C. Have marriage patterns been changing?

D. Is there a preference for boys, girls or neither?

E. Globally, what might happen in the future?



Comments are closed.