News / Asia

China's Emerging Migration Issue: Wife Hunting

Chinese migrants in Beijing.  Researchers say China's gender imbalance has driven men to larger cities in search of wives.
Chinese migrants in Beijing. Researchers say China's gender imbalance has driven men to larger cities in search of wives.
The migration of people from one area to another has historically been related to some aspect of survival. In China, however, experts are looking at a phenomenon often overlooked as a cause for mass migration – men looking for a mate.
 
Chinese culture has always favored sons.  But combining that preference with a one-child policy that has sought to control population growth and an advancement in technology that boosted safe abortions, China today has a population that is greatly skewed towards males.
 
The Population Reference Bureau based in Washington estimates China now has 41 million bachelors who will not have women to marry.  That number is growing by some estimates to 55 million in less than 10 years.  Many men in China are now moving, mostly from rural to urban areas, to look for a wife. 
 
“Migrations of male migrant workers over time has been throughout history has been in part because of gender imbalances,” said Mara Hvistendahl,an award-winning writer and journalist who has spent half of the past decade in China.  Her book, Unnatural Selection, examines China's sex imbalance and the resulting migration and social problems of eligible males.
 
“We see a lot more migration within China these days.  Migrant communities are largely male.  There is a lot of concern about rising prostitution rates, STDs (sexually transmitted disease),” she said.
 
“There is a syphilis epidemic in China now.  There are scholars who connected the rise in HIV and AIDS to this kind of more mobile, single male population.”
 
Normal birth ratios are 105 males for every 100 females.  But in China, it is now about 120 to 100. Mara Hvistendahl says China has some history dealing with migration and sex imbalance.
 
“China had, not on a scale of what we are seeing today, but there was an imbalanced sex ratio in the 19th century for a few decades.  And one of the products of that was Chinese workers going to the United States, areas like California to lay their railroads.  So there was a mass migration at that time.”
 
Hvistendahl added, “Whether these men find wives is another issue.”
 
The issue has resurfaced, and she said in much larger numbers.
 
“The desire to get married is still very strong in some a lot of these cultures.  Societies can certainly adapt in some way.  Ultimately I think it would be very difficult to adapt to the tune of 15 percent of men remaining unmarried in a place where marriage was almost universal and where there is a big social premium on getting married,” she said.
 
“There is a lot of family pressure.  Especially with the one-child policy, the grandparents feel like the family line is resting on this generation.  There will be many people in that generation who will not be able to carry on that line.”

Jim Stevenson

For over 35 years, Jim Stevenson has been sharing stories with the world on the radio and internet. From both the field and the studio, Jim enjoys telling about specific events and uncovering the interesting periphery every story possesses. His broadcast career has been balanced between music, news, and sports, always blending the serious with the lighter side.

You May Like

In China, Mixed Signals on Ebola Controls

How authorities are monitoring at-risk individuals remains unclear, including whether there are quarantines for Chinese health workers returning from West Africa More

Video Women Voters Anxious Ahead of US Elections

Analysts say if women are focused on national security, it could be bad news for Democrats More

Solar's Future Looks Brighter

New technology and dropping prices are contributing to a surge in solar power More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: DAVCLYMAR from: PA, USA
December 20, 2012 10:00 PM
Interesting that the writer says technology has made 'safer abortions' - I ask safer for whom? Every 'successful' abortion is deadly- to at least one person - the unborn child.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Women Voters Anxious Ahead of US Electionsi
X
October 31, 2014 4:10 AM
Public opinion polls show American voters are deeply dissatisfied with their government and anxious about threats from abroad. This is especially true for a key voting group both Republicans and Democrats are trying hard to win over: women. Analysts say if women are focused on national security, it could be bad news for Democrats, with majority control of the Senate at stake. VOA’s Cindy Saine looks at the crucial role women voters will play in deciding the elections.
Video

Video Women Voters Anxious Ahead of US Elections

Public opinion polls show American voters are deeply dissatisfied with their government and anxious about threats from abroad. This is especially true for a key voting group both Republicans and Democrats are trying hard to win over: women. Analysts say if women are focused on national security, it could be bad news for Democrats, with majority control of the Senate at stake. VOA’s Cindy Saine looks at the crucial role women voters will play in deciding the elections.
Video

Video Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisia

Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Africa Tells its Story Through Fashion

In Africa, Fashion Week is a riot of colors, shapes, patterns and fabrics - against the backdrop of its ongoing struggle between nature and its fast-growing urban edge. How do these ideas translate into needle and thread? VOA’s Anita Powell visited this year’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa in Johannesburg to find out.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.

All About America

AppleAndroid