Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Too many men 

Something to whet your appetite and get you thinking on Wednesday morning. James Q Wilson comments on a new book by "Bare Branches" by Valerie M. Hudson and Andrea M. den Boer. Hudson and den Boer look at the male/female ratio in China and India (too many males, not enough females) and try to draw various implications out of it: for instance, lots of males = military aggression.

Wilson comments: "These things may happen, and they may not. We have no reliable information from the modern world as to whether high sex ratios lead to military aggression or political instability." My gut feeling is with Wilson on this point; I doubt that, for example, Germany and Japan in the 1930s had a significant gender imbalance that could explain their militarism. There seem to be many other reasons why countries go crazy and go to war; it's not so much how many men you have, but what you do with them.

Wilson, however, points to other, more likely consequences of the "too many men, not enough women" scenario: higher crime rates, but as a compensation of sorts also higher rates of marriage and lower rates of illegitimacy. In the end, though, Wilson cautiously notes, "how this works out in practice depends on the culture in which men and women grow up." On this point, I'm reminded yet again of the little noted fact that China is slowly but increasingly becoming a Christian nation. Will the religious impulse tame the wild instincts of surplus Chinese men, or, more likely, their leaders? Stay tuned; while our attention has been focused on the Mid East and Central Asia for almost three years now, there's a lot going on under the radar elsewhere in the world.


This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?