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The perils of gender imbalance

September 04, 2006|From Times wire reports

In cultures that favor male babies, sex-ratio imbalances could destabilize society because more men will remain unmarried, raising the risks of anti-social and violent behavior, researchers warn.

In a paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, they said parts of China and India would have 12% to 15% more men over the next 20 years -- many of them rural peasants with limited education.

"The growing number of young men with a lack of family prospects will have little outlet for sexual energy," wrote Zhu Weixing of China's Zhejian Normal University and Therese Hesketh of the Institute of Child Health at University College London.

This trend could threaten stability and security in many societies, they wrote.

Sex ratios are already distorted in large parts of Asia and North Africa, and sex-selective abortion and discrimination in healthcare for girls have led to higher female mortality.

The authors called in the paper for measures to reduce sex selection and an urgent change in cultural attitudes, or dire consequences could follow.

"When single young men congregate, the potential for more organized aggression is likely to increase substantially and this has worrying implications for organized crime and terrorism," they said.

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