Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Too Many Boys in China?

Freakonomics famously connects the passing of Roe v Wade (1973) with the mid-1990s drop in U.S. crime. Their argument (short version) is that many women opting for abortion are single, poor, and do not want a child. Children born unwanted to single, poor mothers are much more likely to become criminals. Levitt and Dubner, the authors of Freakonomics, contend that a large percentage of the precipitous drop in crime in the 1990s can be be attributed to a chunk of the (would-be) population that was never born into these less than desirable environments. I should add that the authors merely conclude that there is a connection--not that abortion is "worth it" or that abortion should be legal. They simply make a positive analysis (a connection between abortion and the crime drop), not a normative one (that abortion is "right" or "wrong" or should/should not be legal). That's a different kind of question.

That said, here is an interesting take on sex-selective abortion and crime: surplus males and the skyrocketing crime rate in China.

A snippet from
The macho violence spurting forth through outlets like war games is a growing trend in Chinese society--and China's one-child policy, in effect since 1979, is partly responsible. The country's three decades of iron-fisted population planning coincided with a binge in sex-selective abortions (Chinese traditionally favor sons, who carry on the family line) and a rise, even as the country developed, in female infant mortality. After almost 30 years of the policy, China now has the largest gender imbalance in the world, with 37 million more men than women and almost 20 percent more newborn boys than girls nationwide.
This could be a painful lesson in unintended consequences for China.

No comments: