Up to the year 1978, China was fundamentally a socialist economy that promoted gender equalities as one of the principles of the societal organizations. Following its embankment of some economic reforms majorly in the 1990s and the early 2000s the gender inequalities in the labor markets of China were on the rise. It is this that led to the rising of the of gender inequality in the labor markets. Gender inequality became a significant economic and social problem as the market-oriented reforms unfolded within China as a nation. By the year 2011, China’s level of gender inequality was relatively small as compared to the global statistics. It ranked 35th according to the United Nations Development Programme's Gender Inequality Index (GII) out of the 142 countries for which the index was estimated and calculated in the year 2011 (Guilmoto,529). The demographics c of China with the current trend are expected to be marked by a doubling of the senior citizens, shrinking of the younger workforce and basic social welfare and pension systems that are incapacitated to cope with the massive imbalance witnessed in the society. It is a reality that is also bound to be shared by the developed countries as well as the United States only that China’s situation is forecast to be even worse. It is because it has a relatively larger population and is poorer regarding per capita, income coupled with than lower levels of education and also some more ill-equipped pension systems (Guilmoto,530). It is, therefore, clear that gender is a significant issue and is predicted to be even a bigger issue in the future for China.
By the year 2012, China indicated that there were over 18n million more boys than girls in the country of the children under the age of 15. Moreover, in the same year, nationally there were over 40 million more boys than the girls. The estimated shortage of the marriageable women by the year 2020 is at 30 million (Guilmoto,535). In the year 2005 alone, there were over 1.1 million births for excess boys that occurred. The Chinese Academy of Social Sciences indicated that the disparity between the births of boys to that of girls continued to be on the rise in the country on an annual basis.
The disparity in the number of female to male births in the country is an issue of controversy in the country and also among the majority of the people of China that may have viewed as per the demographics. It is because, during the era of Mao Zedong between 1949 to 1978 through the strength of the communist party and the people’s government policy, the status of the Chinese women changed from mere “family private people” of the traditional society to a more social, person and the women in Chinese gained their status in the legal sense just like the men did (Guilmoto,541). The constitution of the people’s Republic of China enacted in 1954 clearly stated that the women and men enjoyed equal rights without any form of bias or division of their importance. Even in the legal terms there was the recognition of the idea of having equal pay for all the equal work that the women and men engaged in. It was in an effort by the China’s Communist party to achieve the desired gender equality (Guilmoto,543). The government undertook a variety of measures in an effort to liberate the women and also engaged in the implementation of the policies of equality and the equal pay for all the equal work and equal opportunities for the men and women. It was a factor that was not in practice in the country for some time since there was still inequality in pay in the workplace during the era due to the gender segregation that existed.
According to 2010, United Nation’s (UN) Population Prospects, the Chinese sex ratio at birth had reached at 100 female births per every 120 male births (Jieyu, 134). It was an increase from the world’s average that was 107 males for every 100 females born. It is this that earned China a rank among the top countries with the highest male to female birth rates differences. The imbalanced sex ratios at birth was a position that has been on the rise since the mid of the 1980s when the sex ratio at birth first became abnormal. It is even more alarming for the case of China due to the existence of evidence that points to scores of over 160 sex ratios. The Chinese gender imbalances would be attributed to the increase in the excess female child mortality, despite the fact that the women in China have a higher life expectancy than the men, China remains with a crisis on the gender imbalances that is even evident among the young people in the past decade.
The marginal gender inequality in China can be traced back to the onset of the one-child policy that started in the 1970s. The policy was coupled with the cultural preferences of those that prefer the male heirs is what contributed to the bigger rate of male children births (Jieyu, 130). The duty of caring for the parents at old age is bestowed upon the boys, and therefore, the parents went to great heights at ensuring that they have someone that would care for them at old age through bearing a son. The one-child policy was, therefore, instrumental in allowing the gender bias that existed in the country over the decades for the boys. It can be said that the policy bears the lost responsibility at reinforcing the gender imbalance in the country (Jieyu, 125). Along the rural areas, the couple would be allowed to have the second child if the first one was a girl but if the firstborn were a boy, and then they would not have the chance to bear another child. It is because the policy was inspired by the notion that the boys were more valuable than then girls as some of the feminists argued about the issue. Moreover, the continued controls on the rate of growth in the country also led to the difference in the number of young people in the country. As a result of the decreased number of youth, then there are even reduced the number of individuals to take care of the elderly.
Effects of the gender imbalance in China
With the advent of the one-child policy in China over 25 years ago, it means that there will be a large group of young men that will not have a marriage partner from within their age group. As a result, it may lead to the increased marriage of men to younger women. Such an older man may find a higher opportunity at marrying the younger women (Cai and William). By the time, the men may be even 0preferbale to the younger girls because the men may be more established and also may have established their career and may also be considered as being ideal for marriage. The Chinese society is experiencing an increased age variance between the spouses even in the contemporary society. The social consequence of the notion is what has led to the majority of the Chinese men postponing marriage until they can be able to afford it and also to adequately provide for the wife and the family at large. There are prospects that indicate that the trend may be more visible by the year 2030 (Cai and William).
The prospect of not finding a marriage partner may be a source of anger and frustration among some of the young people. It is because the human being is more of a social being and hence the need to blend in and also to have a family. Moreover, the Chinese culture insists on the need to have a family, especially for the men (Cai and William). The mainstream society in China puts great emphasis on progeny, the family network strength and also the building of the family units as a benefit to the status building. However, the statistics in China indicate that one male Chinese young man is single out of every four adults, and thus it is an indication of undesirable dimension. It is even more challenging, and frustration due to the China is a more socialist society, and hence, the social systems are very much bound together with the cultures of the people still very vibrant in the country (Cai and William).
If the demographics of the excess men would be found in some single demographic namely rural, poor and uneducated men, then there is the danger of new class segregation in the Chinese society. There is a danger of having an entire class of potentially angry, frustrated, uneducated ad also relatively poor may be serious threats to the stability of the society in general. The Chinese history is also full of examples of deviance and violence resulting from frustrations and feelings of social segregation (Guilmoto,519).
In conclusion, China is experiencing a gender imbalance that may be linked to the changes that have occurred over the course of time. The one child policy is one of the principal causes of the situation that threatens the gender balance in China even further shortly. The policy led to the parents and majority of the citizens preferring to have boys other than girls because the Chinese culture identifies the boys as being more valuable than the girls because they can take care of them during old age. However, the decrease in the number of girls as compared to the boys population with China being at the top regarding the disparity globally is the recipe for further social, economic and political problems in the country later. There are indications that the majority of the men that may remain single may be the uneducated, poor and as a result, may potentially be angry and frustrated. It is this that can lead to social segregation that may brew social instability in the country at the course of time. it is, therefore, clear that the gender disparity in China is an important issue that needs to be addressed and addressed soon enough in the country.