Will Chinese Bachelors Doom The Global Economy?

October 2, 2012 in Daily Bulletin, Signature

Roseann Lake argued that unless it becomes easier for Chinese men to attract wives, the global economy could soon face serious challenges:

  • The one child policy combined with a cultural preference for boys and sex-selective abortions means that there are far too few women in China to marry all the bachelors.
  • To attract a life partner, men are expected to prove their eligibility by owning their own home.
  • This has led to the rise of houses with completely unusable phantom third stories that only serve to make the house look grand.
  • The need to own a home has also led to the “two-rat” phenomenon. To attract mates men spend all their money on grand homes in their native regions. After getting married they migrate to urban cities where the only thing they can afford is a tiny dark apartment.
  • In a time when developed nations are facing an economic slowdown, China is expected to prop up the global economy.
  • However the demand for housing is so high that prices have raced away. The average house now costs up to 20 times average annual salary. In the United States this ratio is about 3:1. This means that Chinese men have to save all of their money rather than spend.
  • If housing prices continue to rise unsustainably then China may face a housing crisis similar to the one that brought down the United States.
  • None of this is a particularly good deal for women either. Sisters and cousins are expected to give up their incomes so that male members of the family can buy houses. And after getting married Chinese women might be expected to contribute to the mortgage without ever seeing their name on the deed due to cultural norms.

The full argument explores many more facets of Chinese culture, its implications for the economy, and what it might mean for all of us. Read it here.

Source: Foreign Policy