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Asean Affairs    26  October  2011

Sexual imbalance in Asia’s largest economies

 By David Swartzentruber

 AseanAffairs     26  October 2011

China and India are often touted as Asian countries that could dominate the 21st century as economic powers.

However, there is another issue that could  trouble these countries and that is the ratio of men to women in society.

The natural birth ratio is 104-106 males to every 100 females. In India and Vietnam the figure is around 112 boys for every 100 girls. In China it is almost 120 to 100 -- and in some places higher than 130. The skewed gender ratios could fuel the emergence of volatile "bachelor nations" driven by an aggressive competition for brides.

Sex-selective abortion is illegal in both China and India, but officials say the law is incredibly difficult to enforce. The convergence of traditional preferences for sons, declining fertility and, most crucially, the prevalence of cheap prenatal sex-determination technology are the factors propelling the imbalance.

So, is there a problem?
Awareness of the problem was raised back in 1990 with an article by the Nobel prize-winning Indian economist Amartya Sen that carried the now famous title: "More Than 100 Million Women Are Missing."  Demographers say that figure is now more than 160 million.

French population expert Christophe Guilmoto says that even if birth ratios normalized within 10 years there would still be a marriage problem for decades.

Some forecast an increase in polyandry and sex tourism, while others predict cataclysmic scenarios with the rise of male-surplus societies where sexual predation, violence and conflict are the norm.

Historians point out that societies where there are significantly more men than women are often unstable and violent.
Social planners in both India and China need to begin taking a closer look at this potentially explosive situation.

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This year in Thailand-what next?

AseanAffairs   04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More


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