Friday, August 22, 2008

One Child Policy, Sex Ratio and Crime in China

Over on, Esther Duflo has a very readable piece on the potential rise in crime caused by gender selection as a result of China’s one child policy. As Duflo points out there are nearly 110 young males (age 15-25) for every 100 young women. As the only child generation has reached adulthood, crime rates have increased over 13%.

Duflo cites a recent study by Chinese and American researchers: “Sex ratio and crime: Evidence from China’s one-Child Policy” (by Edlund, Li, Yi, and Zhang). The study compares regions that had different rates of enforcement of the one-child policy, which led to differences in the male to female sex ratio. Overall, Duflo says that the increase explains about 1/7 (2% ish) of the increase.

I went to look at the paper and the abstract posted (here) says that crime had increased 5-6% from the change in sex ratio. Even though the downloadable working paper (here) is more in line with the 2-3% number Duflo cites?

A couple of questions arise though. What is the impact of 3-6% rise in the crime rate? Could this impact China’s economic growth prospects, particularly since the ratio is now 120 boys to 100 girls?

My solution to the problem. Bring more Chinese males to American Universities (see here). (OK that won't work either).

How about paying households who have girls in China?

h/t to Chris Blattman
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