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NewsTalk

Welcome to the archives for NewsTalk, an IBJ blog published from November 2007 through December 2010.

The local impact of gendercide

March 8, 2010

The Economist has a sobering cover story this week on gendercide, the age-old practice that usually leans toward aborting girls.

Gendercide has grown to whopping proportions. In China, the ratio of births now stands at 123 boys for every 100 girls (it was “just” 108 as recently as the late 1980s); in India, several provinces have ratios of 125 or more. Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia also have huge imbalances. Even such wealthy places as Hong Kong and Singapore are over the natural ratio of 105. (More boys than girls die natural deaths.)

Determining the number of missing women is left to educated guess work. One prominent researcher pegs the total at 100 million.

The reasons for gender selection vary from country to country—in China, couples want a boy if they’re limited by policy to one child. This follows ancient preferences in many places around the world for boys, particularly in poor locales. But modern couples also tend to want smaller families, and rising wealth is bringing ultrasound scans within reach.

What does all this have to do with business in Indianapolis? Maybe more than one might expect.

Some of these nations are huge trading partners, and their significance in the global economy is on a steep upward trajectory. What would happen if those legions of unmarried men could be persuaded to direct their energies at revolution or other social malfeasance? Authors, after all, have raised the prospect, and an Economist editorial that accompanies the article notes, “In any country, rootless young men spell trouble …”

Civil wars would interrupt trade, to say the least. It isn’t difficult imagining companies that relied on exports to certain countries coming on hard times or even bankruptcy.

Also, if you’re female and doing business in countries where gendercide is prevalent, how does that make you feel? Would it influence where you direct your company or whether you accepted an overseas assignment? How would your investors or boss feel about that?

Thoughts?

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