What would our world be like if it contained far fewer women? It may seem like the stuff of post-apocalyptic fiction, but according to journalist Mara Hvistendahl, the author of “Unnatural Selection: Choosing Boys Over Girls, and the Consequences of a World Full of Men,” truth is coming closer to fiction. According to Hvistendahl, a science writer and correspondent for Science magazine, the world is currently experiencing a demographic shift that is tilting our population in favor of men. The main source of her concern is the fact that a growing number of parents in various parts of the world have been using ultrasound technology to determine the sex of their fetus and, in a disturbing number of cases, terminating females. Based on personal anecdotes and research from fields as disparate as demography, sociology, economics and genetics, Hvistendahl speculates about what this means for everything from bride buying and sex trafficking to male violence, and why it might be causing global unrest. Salon spoke with Hvistendahl about our overpopulation fears, what this trend means for abortion and America's own curious sex selection trend.
The international sex ratio is nearly equal, with 101 males for 100 females. So why is the sex imbalance at birth in some countries, like China and India, a problem?
The sex ratio imbalance in Asia is such that it has skewed the sex ratio at birth of the whole world. We are talking about 160 million women and girls who are missing from the population. This is reshaping whole societies. There are many men who are growing up and can't find wives, so they're going to poorer countries to buy them. Sex trafficking is on the rise as well. Prostitution and crime have increased, and these are all huge problems.