When the Chinese government instituted the policy in 1979, it touched off a wave of sex-selective abortions as pregnant couples decided that if they could have only one child they would benefit most from having a boy. That helped leave modern China with the largest gender imbalance in the world. Today, there are 37 million more men than women in China, and many of the boys are growing up unable to find a job or start a family.
So what are these “surplus” boys doing to fill their time?
In The New Republic, Mara Hvistendahl reports that as the first generation of one-child boys have reached adolescence, the youth crime rate in China has more than doubled, as idle and frustrated boys turn to crime “without specific motives, often without forethought.”
P.S.: Mara Hvistendahl is a former research assistant of Dubner’s who, a few years ago, took the great leap of moving to China because she thought it would be a great place to be a journalist. Go Mara!