China’s Sex Ratio: How Skewed Is It?

Chinese One-Child Policy poster (The Galloping Beaver)

Chinese One-Child Policy poster (The Galloping Beaver)

Late last year, China ended its one-child policy, where each family was only allowed to have…one child. (Bet you didn’t see that one coming.) Though its rules have relaxed in recent years, this is the first time the practice has been officially abolished. (But we’ll see how long it takes for the policy to actually die down, data-wise.)

We’ve all heard about how skewed China’s sex ratios are; we’ve heard about how the country overwhelmingly favors male children to the detriment of an equal sex ratio. But what are the numbers behind this phenomenon?

Consulting firm Nomura Research Institute, Ltd. released data in 2010 that revealed that Chinese women bear .71 of female births during their lifetime. That year, men outnumbered women by 50M+. The birth rate at that time was 120 boys per 100 girls, which works out to a sex ratio of 1.2.

If you’re a visual learner, here’s what that ratio looks like, especially in context with other countries:

China's male births compared to other countries' male births ('Business Insider')

China’s male births compared to other countries’ male births (‘Business Insider’)

As Business Insider notes:

That means lots of single, possibly angry males. Hard to imagine anything good coming out of this.

The policy was made into law in 1979, and abolished in 2015. That’s 36 years. Thirty-sex years of selected sex-selection in favor of boys at the expense of girls. (Fun fact: Kim Kardashian West participated in this when she was trying to get pregnant with her now-son.)

Scary, right? We’ll see how the new policy helps attempt to reverse this long-running trend.

 

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China Ends Its Famous One-Child Policy

Chinese One-Child Policy poster (The Galloping Beaver)

Chinese One-Child Policy poster (The Galloping Beaver)

Whoa. Here’s something I didn’t expect to happen within my lifetime: Last week, China officially ended its one-child-per-family policy. Now, married couples are allowed to have up to two children. Crazy! (Though I kind of doubt that many couples will get crazy, and have more than two.)

The one-child policy was informally adopted (i.e. “strongly encouraged”) in 1975, made into law by the country’s Communist Party four years later. The law followed China’s population exceeding 800M+ people in 1970, with leaders realizing that the then-current growth rate was unsustainable.

However, the law has been relaxed for exceptions. In 1984, parents were allowed to have two children if one parent was an only. In 2013, this became alright if only one parent was an only child.

It’s estimated that the policy has prevented 400M+ births.

But why was the policy abolished, and why now? There are a few reasons. One is that the male-to-female sex ratio is becoming unbearably skewed, which tends to happen when preference for one sex greatly outweighs the other. (In this case, the Chinese preferred boys to girls, even going so far as to commit infanticide if a child was born a girl.) The birth rate is also declining, and the mortality rate is on track to outpace it. Per “The New York Times:”

China’s working-age population, those 15 to 64, grew by at least 100 million people from 1990 until a couple of years ago. But that expansion is petering out, and more people are living longer, leaving a greater burden on a shrinking work force. Now, about 10 percent of the population is 65 or older, and according to earlier estimates, that proportion is likely to reach 15 percent by 2027 and 20 percent by 2035.

China’s population is now 1.3B+, with 30% being over 50. It’s estimated that the decision will affect 100M+ couples.

 

Thursday Trends: Young Women and #GrannyHair

Rihanna (Her Interest)

Rihanna (Her Interest)

Kylie Jenner did it. So did Rihanna and Kelly Osbourne. Of course, Lady Gaga, trendsetter that she is, rocked it back in 2010.

Grey hair.

Once upon a time, it was unseemly for women to go out sporting anything other than a full mane of brown, black, red or blonde hair. Grey was seen as unnatural and, at the same time, a little too natural. It was shoved to the side, to the back of the mind, ignoring the tell-tale side of aging.

Right now, women are embracing the color whole-heartedly, and running towards the grey instead of away from it. A recent BuzzFeed post shows how young women are riding the trend, especially seen on Instgram with the hashtag #GrannyHair.

But why now? Why is this grey hair’s big moment?

We seem to be in the midst of a “revering our elders” moment. (Real talk, though: that needs to happen every day. Call your grandparents, people!) The fashion world has been pioneering this lately. French fashion house Céline tapped 80-year-old essayist Joan Didion to be their latest model, and Saint Laurent is using 71-year-old Joni Mitchell. The major beauty players are doing the same, with 64-year-old Jessica Lange for Marc Jacobs and 69-year-old Helen Mirren for L’Oreal Paris. In this year’s Milan Fashion Week, trends skewed towards something your grandmother might don for a social event.

This makes total sense in terms of how current demographics are shifting. The baby boomer generation, born between 1946 and 1964, are turning officially “old” at a rapid clip. As of 2011, they numbered 77M+ and are “the largest generation in American history.” Baby boomers began turning 65 in 2011, and won’t stop until the end of 2029.

Here’s how CNN puts this demographic’s strength in numbers in terms of future projected growth:

The 65+ population segment is projected to double to 71.5 million by 2030 and grow to 86.7 million by 2050.

With this projected growth will come a lot of societal changes (I’ve always said that this isn’t a generation that’ll age quietly). We’re beginning to see initial impacts with how we view that generation and the ones before. For example, It used to be that you couldn’t be seen as a sexual being after a certain age, that you were out of the running in the race to make babies. And while that second part might be true, the first has been proven false by many women over “a certain age.” Case in point: see every instance where a late-night talk show host jokes about Helen Mirren. They’re always saying she’s hot (and she is!). Society has long seen older men with grey hair as sexy, and is now (finally!) coming around to the idea that older women are hot too.

Young women coloring their hair grey even has a historical precedent. In her book “Seductress: Women Who Ravished the World and Their Lost Art of Love” author Betsy Prioleau mentions that young women in the French court used to powder their hair grey to emulate their elders. (If you’ve seen Sofia Coppola’s “Marie Antoinette,” the director subtly includes this detail, noticeable in some shots.)

Overall, this trend really points to a shift in how we’re seeing aging. People seem to be more open to the fact that life doesn’t stop after a certain age. And young women are celebrating their elders with their grey hair, natural or not.