Wednesday, July 01, 2009

How China's preference for sons affects America's ability to borrow

here (via Freakonomics):

Chinese parents’ preference for sons has given rise to a brewing social problem. With the advent of inexpensive ultrasounds, far more boys than girls are born in China – which has in turn given rise to a growing number of rootless, unmarried men.

The “missing women” problem may have also contributed to the U.S. housing and credit bubbles, new research suggests.


One possible reason for the jump in savings: The dearth of women is making China’s marriage market extremely competitive, and families with boys are accumulating wealth to make their sons more attractive matches.

In a paper recently posted to the National Bureau of Economic Research’s website, economists Shan-Jin Wei, at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Business, and Xiaobo Zhangk, at the International Food Policy offer evidence why this might be so. They find that in areas where the male-to-female sex for young Chinese is high, savings rates are higher, too. And they find that households with sons save more in high male-to-sex ratio regions.

If this is true, then when the majority of the these boys are married off, the in-laws receiving these dowries may be less apt to save, and US borrowing costs could zoom.

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