An India/Pakistani War -- It Could Come From Unbalanced Population Growth

By Donald Collins
Published in The Social Contract
Volume 12, Number 3 (Spring 2002)
Issue theme: "Media coverage on immigration - where's the balance?"

Under the rather arcane title, "The Security Logic of High Sex-Ratio Societies," a stunning article by two researchers -- Valerie M. Hudson at Brigham Young University, and Andrea M. Den Boer at the University of Kent in the UK -- points to "a variable that will become highly significant in Asia within the next two decades. That variable is the young adult sex ratio. The sex ratios of many Asian nations, including the two who are now facing off (again), Pakistan and India, are being skewed in favor of males on a scale unprecedented in human history."

Soon to appear in the distinguished periodical, International Security, the article explores the "violent dynamics of...high sex-ratio populations," clearly identifying the potential security dangers for our planet which have resulted from the rapidly growing populations of the past hundred years and the bias favoring male children over females in key Asian nations.

"Normal birth sex ratios range between 105-107 males per 100 female births." Their data for seven Asian countries (Afghanistan, Bangladesh, China, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Taiwan) show "from 66 to 86 million of the missing females in Asia are attributed to the above"; but two of them, "China and India together, contribute to between 61 and 68 million." Many now feel the number is higher, perhaps 100 million. And the ratio in recent years has increased rapidly in both. For example, in Punjab, the sex ratio of children from zero to six years of age is now 126 males to every 100 females.

While "sex selection" is illegal in both India and China, the "director of the Demography Institute at Beijing University freely admits that there exists 'the loss of female births due to illegal prenatal determination and sex-selective abortion, creating an unbalanced population sex structure...resulting in potentially serious social problems.' Remember, China and India alone comprise over 38 percent of the world's population."

Well, after September 11, we should all understand and care about this condition. Let these experts explain why. This study and other recent studies have shown that where what the authors call surplus young males (what I have dubbed "rogue males" predominate, instability is often rife. And, as we know now, this surplus of rogue males can lead to "rogue" governments which harbor and abet terrorists, as in Afghanistan.

In China, these surplus males are called "guang gun-er" or "bare sticks" or "bare branches" as they will never marry (bear fruit!), "because no marriage partner might be found for them." By 2020, these authors predict, there will be 40 million "bare sticks" for China alone! These are not your Western-type bachelors. Indeed, "single men in the West are not surplus males; they can and often do form...attachments to women and produce children in that context." These "bare sticks" don't have that chance; often they come from the lowest socio-economic class, are un- or under-employed, live a nomadic lifestyle with few ties to the communities in which they are working, generally living and socializing with other "bare sticks." Thus, their behavior "follows a broadly predictable pattern," prone to seek satisfaction through "vice and violence."

In China, these "bare sticks" cause "the overwhelming percentage of violent crime." One scholar has shown that "an unmarried man between 24 and 35 is about three times as likely to murder another male as is a married man of the same age." He is also more likely to rob, rape, and, yes, join others in proving to his kind his manliness! The worst among them is to them the best! These men have "nothing to lose but their reputations for violence." They are juicy pluckings for the likes of Osama bin Laden. Marriage tames testosterone, which the authors feel may explain low levels of criminality among married men. A seventeenth-century observer put it this way, "Heretical teachings start by inciting, deluding and gathering people, but end by planning rebellion."

Governments with these ratios face "vexing policy dilemmas." Their governance must be more authoritarian, "must cultivate a political style crafted to retain allegiance and respect of its bare branches." China has a "floating population" of 150 million, many of them young surplus adult males (i.e., "bare branches"). Beijing Review reports that eighty percent of its crime comes from ˇ°migrants" -- these floaters.

The authors note that "much the same analysis can be made" for India. Many of its legislators are criminals. Kidnaping in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar "is a way of life." Thus, what we see happening today, a continuing and probably escalating war between India and Pakistan, is in some ways a logical policy option for these governments with too many "rogue males." What to do? Sending them to war probably is better than killing them outright or putting too many in jail. These weak governments are often strongly influenced by street demonstrations, riots, and other bloody assaults. The authors of this sex-ratio study have confidently and, in my view, correctly predicted a continuing and increasingly dangerous war over Kashmir between India and Pakistan, both of which have dangerously high sex ratios.

And what has happened in America since our immigration laws were changed in 1965? The "open borders" policies of our major parties have allowed at least eight million illegal aliens to remain here, many even after deportation orders are issued against them. And Congress just adjourned without passing a Visa Control Bill, which among other things would have strengthened foreign student tracking and instituted machine-readable biometric IDs on visas and some passports.

American policies for dealing with this looming rogue male issue must include (1) a staunch refusal to allow ourselves to be overrun with rogue males or any large foreign contingent who cannot be readily absorbed into our nation's culture and values; (2) enlargement of foreign assistance, especially better controlled and directed toward providing family planning services; and (3) a better understanding of the governance problems in places such as China and India. These governments are not living in Kansas, Dorothy, but in a real world often close to anarchy. Why bleat about human rights to governments just trying to survive in a jungle? These fragile governments need our patience, our understanding, and our carefully directed economic aid. ˇö

About the author

Donald A. Collins is a freelance writer living in Washington, D.C. He has traveled extensively in developing nations, most recently in Africa.

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