One hundred million bachelors
There is a time bomb ticking in China. It's a demographic one, created by the disastrous "one child, one family" policy pursued by Beijing for many years in an attempt to curb population growth in the world's most populous country.
According to China's 2010 census, its population then numbered 1.34 billion people, 51.27 percent male and 48.73 percent female.
The sex ratio at birth, however, shows a far more threatening imbalance: 118 boys for every 100 girls. (In most Western countries, the ratio is 105 to every 100.) This imbalance is projected to rise to an astonishing 20 percent by 2030, and to slowly decrease thereafter. In China, particularly in impoverished rural areas, male offspring traditionally are preferred over female, in part to better provide next generation support for the elderly.
A few years ago authorities, recognizing the problems their ill-considered policy had created, relaxed somewhat the draconian measures taken to enforce one child, one family. These included not only fines but forced abortions and sterilizations. Ironically, the marketplace in communist China also has helped slow growth in the imbalance of the sexes. As the Chinese population becomes more urbanized and relatively more wealthy, large family units are viewed as a hindrance to enjoyment of the material benefits the new economy provides. (This is not something unique to China. In the developed world, greater wealth and the financial ability to support more children leads not to preference for larger family units, but for smaller ones.)
One child, one family has created in China a situation in which more than a 100 million Chinese men eventually will have no Chinese women to marry.
Much is made of China's yen for the commodities that fuel its rapidly expanding economy. In family-oriented China, though, the greatest demand by the bereft bachelor ultimately will be for his better half.
China's next growth market will be either marriage brokers or lonely hearts clubs.