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

Reports of Mass Murder on Mediterranean Smuggler’s Boat

Boat sailed from Libya with 750 migrants aboard and arrived in Italy with 569 More

Video New Thailand Hotline Targets Misbehaving Monks

Officials say move aims to restore country’s image of Buddhism, tarnished by recent high profile scandals such as opulent lifestyle, drug and alcohol abuse, as well as child sex abuse More

Study: Dust from Sahara Helped Form Bahama Islands

What does the Sahara have in common with a Caribbean island? Quite a lot, researchers say 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.
Astronauts Train in Underwater Labi
X
George Putic
July 25, 2014 7:25 PM
In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid