Two stories have caught my attention in the past two days, and both deal with everyone’s favorite subject: dating! Or rather, I should say the stories are more about the lack of suitable mating options that has resulted from the intersection of two topics we blog about quite often on SM: 1) the growing new economies of India and China; and 2) the messed up sex ratio resulting from female foeticide and infanticide.
Yesterday, PRI’s Marketplace sent a reporter in to the heart of “Parent’s Matchmaker’s Corner” in Shanghai. The corner is basically a trading floor where worried Chinese parents gather to trade biodata on their late-twentysomething children, mostly without the knowledge of said children. The story was set in Shanghai but it might as well have been Delhi, as almost identical market forces are at work. Among the many great insights (some humorous) in the radio story (please listen) are the following:
1) Chinese A-list men date B-list women because they don’t want someone as smart as them. They want a trophy wife.
2) Many Chinese A-list men go abroad to seek their fortune, thus restricting supply.
3) Chinese A-list women get screwed because they are in high demand (since there is an overall shortage of women), but only have B and C-list men to choose from.
4) A-list women throw themselves into work and/or fool around waiting for an A-list man that might never materialize.
5) B and C-list men grow increasingly bitter and frustrated because all the B and C-list women have traded up and the A-list women only want them for their bods.
This chain of events is set into motion for two reasons: 1) there is a skewed sex ratio; and 2) in the “new” economies you have as many or more educated women as men. Again, everything above seems to apply to India as well. You’ll also note that in America reason #2 is already applicable, but what saves us from the same spiral is that we don’t perform sex selection.
Here is another similar story:
It was midnight here in Hanoi, or already 2 a.m. back in Seoul, South Korea. But after a five-hour flight on a recent Sunday, Kim Wan-su was driven straight from the airport to the Lucky Star karaoke bar here, where 23 young Vietnamese women seeking Korean husbands sat waiting in two dimly lighted rooms…
More and more South Korean men are finding wives outside of South Korea, where a surplus of bachelors, a lack of marriageable Korean partners and the rising social status of women have combined to shrink the domestic market for the marriage-minded male. Bachelors in China, India and other Asian nations, where the traditional preference for sons has created a disproportionate number of men now fighting over a smaller pool of women, are facing the same problem…
After an initial setback — his first three choices found various reasons to decline his offer — Mr. Kim narrowed his field to a 22-year-old college student and an 18-year-old high school graduate.
“What’s your personality like?” Mr. Kim asked the college student.
“I’m an extrovert,” she said.
The 18-year-old asked why he wanted to marry a Vietnamese woman.
“I have two colleagues who married Vietnamese women,” he said, adding, “The women seem devoted and family-oriented.”
One Korean broker said the 22-year-old, who seemed bright and assertive, would adapt well to South Korea. Another suggested flipping a coin.
“Well, since I’m quiet, I’ll choose the extrovert,” Mr. Kim said finally, adding quickly, “Is it O.K. if I hold her hand now?”… [Link]
I’ve never taken an economics class in my life but the link between these “market forces” and deleterious effect it is having on the social fabric seems interesting to me here. There might be a Nobel Prize in economics for someone willing to tackle it. If you follow the logic you end up with a lot of really smart, un-married, bitter women, and not-so-smart young men who are angry at everyone (as all dateless men are…ummmmm…not that I would know). If these two contingents ever join forces it could mean the end for China and India. I exaggerate greatly, but I’d love to hear your thoughts
As for me, I’m more than ok being a trophy husband someday. As long as I find an A-list woman willing to trade down.