Monday, February 12, 2007

Does China have a problem with the gender imbalance? If so, how big of problem?

Economics at work! Compare this article from the BBC (echoing what I believe to be the 'general'- rather gloomy!- perspective on China's gender imbalance) and the viewpoints of economists Gary Becker and Richard Posner, who start from discussing whether there is any valid case for forbidding the 'sex selection' practice, but end up discussing a series of wider implications. While indeed in the short term (Just how short is short? Posner's favourite numbers seem to be 20-30 years...) China's "problem" could indeed be 'somewhat of a problem' (with the provision that- violence contained- all women should be better off...), I cannot but agree with the excellent analysis of Becker, complemented with further observations by Posner (I thought Posner's idea of using the societies that permit polygyny as a 'natural experiment' to provide some answers to the question of how much should China and other countries in similar situations worry about the gender imbalance, was an excellent one). I really think the market should be let to do its job; and, if anything, in terms of state intervention, polyandry should be allowed in these countries (if the problem turns into a PROBLEM, it would be practiced, more or less informally, anyhow). What's the problem with that? (Except for the fact that such a word probably equates blasphemy in such countries as China, where male domination and polygyny used to be the standard for ages: well, maybe it's high time for a change...)

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