“It’s going to be primarily less well educated, less affluent, more marginalized members of Chinese society who aren’t going to be able to marry,” says Richard Jackson, president of the Global Aging Institute. “And that’s not just a big disappointment to themselves and their families, but it’s also potentially socially destabilizing.”
Some research has shown an increase in crime in parts of China where the gender imbalance is the highest, Hudson says.
China is a society in which men traditionally pay a dowry, or a “bride price,” to a woman’s family to marry. The shortage of women has driven up the accepted costs of these dowries and put marriage out of reach for many Chinese. Ten years ago, typical bride prices in rural areas were $300 to $400. Now they range from $30,000 to $40,000. These inflated dowry costs are causing severe financial hardship and making it even harder for men of more modest means to marry.
The one-child policy was enforced unevenly across the country, so some regions have much wider gender gaps than others do. Henan Province, in central China, has one of the largest gender gaps. According to the 2005 national census, 142 boys were born for every 100 girls.