Thursday, May 19, 2011

US gender balance may be a significant competitive advantage

Demographic gender imbalance in favor of males due to prenatal gender selection and misogynism in India and China will probably handicap economic and social progress in these countries relative to the United States. The US will have a long term economic advantage due to its greater utilization of its human capital and the future social disruption likely in countries with large gender imbalances.

Despite rapid growth, India lets its girls die - World news - South and Central Asia -

"Early results show India has 914 girls under age 6 for every 1,000 boys. A decade ago, many were horrified when the ratio was 927 to 1,000....In Morena, a sun-baked, largely rural district in the heart of India, the numbers are especially grim. This census showed that only 825 girls for every 1,000 boys in the district made it to their sixth birthdays, down from an already troubling 829 a decade ago."

The article discusses the social reasons for this result. It is likely that there will be serious social disruption in the future due to this.

NationMaster provides data on the gender ratio of the cohort under 15 years that shows China is worse than India:

China: 1.17 male(s)/female 2011

India: 1.13 male(s)/female 2011


jemand said...

This is so sad. Of course the societal upheaval would be the same, but from the point of view of the girls involved, it might actually be better for them if sex selective abortions WERE allowed. Starving and being abused until you die of poor treatment and neglect is far more painful and awful than never being born at all.

Also, I dunno, if sex selective abortions were freely available to all, the sex ratio might get SO severe for a year or two, that even the parents can see the absurdity of their bias.

But as a woman myself, I cannot imagine the depths of self-hatred that would lead me to abort or starve a child simply for being a girl-- like me. It's mindblowing.

Randy said...

It may the effect of either strengthening the position of women ("You can't support me in the style I expect? Bye") or of undermining it ("You're a valuable trade good, you know").

The worst kinds of eliminationism might be the kinds that sit quietly in the background. I expect countries which make such use of their human capital will be worse off. I'm inclined to say that they deserve to be worse off, actually.

Cicerone said...

Well, I think another effect of this gender thing is almost always ignored: The higher the sex-imbalance is, the higher the replacement level of the population. See, in developed countries usually the figure of 2.1 is stated. The 0.1 is to make up for the natural gender imbalance and deaths before reaching the fecund age.

Usually for 100 women 105 men are born, in sum 205. So, if nobody dies, out of these 205 people you need 205 births in the next generation so that there are 100 women again which leads to a replacement level of 2.05 children/woman if there is perfect health so that noone dies before reaching the age of 45. In a screwed country like India, maybe 120 men per 100 women are born, which makes 220 people. That leads to a replacement level of 2.2 children/woman. Add the 0.05 who die before 45 and you get 2.25.

Where does it lead to? Well, it means that a fertility rate of 1.4 will be much worse for India than for a european country. In relation to the replacement level, India with a fertility of 1.4 will behave much more like a normal 1.3-country.

So, countries with a screwed gender balance will not only have an unhappier male population, they will also age and shrink faster. Countries who disrespect women and try to fool nature will disappear in a natural way: They'll die faster than normal countries.

Colin said...

The big competitive advantage economically isn't the greater proportion of women per se, it's that for each woman in the US, her skills are better utilised by the labour market than they would be in countries where the culture restricts what women can do. (There are aspects in which every country in the world seems to waste the talent of its women though, such as leadership.)

Scott said...

You are correct; I should have been more explicit in stating that the advantage would be due to the greater use and availability of skills/talents/creativity in a labor market that doesn't restrict the activities of women.

And there is no question that barriers remain for women in certain areas in even the most modern countries.

Anonymous said...

This all reads a tad hand-wring, leftie, UN-loving, manginaspeak. Only one or two girls are needed to keep the home clean and to cook food, whereas the more boys you have the more labour. That's why they want boys: to work them hard. I'm NOT saying its right but I am saying that you are looking at this from an "interesting" UN-approved perspective.