Because of the one-child policy, China's birthrate is heavily skewed in favor of boys. Result: by 2030, 1 in 4 men in their thirties will be unmarried, many not by choice. What will become of this generation of single men?
That's the question Kevin Lee asks in a Forbes blog post — and he has a number of possible answers. Men could marry younger women, but of course that would just pass the gender imbalance along to younger generations. Some of the men could enter relationships with other men — says Lee, "if you are persuaded that homosexuality is in part influenced by social factors, then it is worthwhile to explore what impact such a large population of unmarried men might have on the issue of sexual orientation." You don't have to view homosexuality as a choice to believe that partner selection might be influenced by gender imbalance — for instance, men who might have remained closeted if they'd been able to enter heterosexual marriages might come out, or bisexual men might be more likely to choose male partners. Lee also speculates that unmarried Chinese men might simply "stay silent and endure their circumstance as other groups of Chinese have done in the past." Or they might get angry. Lee writes,
The prospect of never finding a life partner can be one of the greatest fears in a person's life. In a culture like China's, where the mainstream societal expectation continues to put heavy emphasis on progeny, family network strength and family unit establishment as a benefit to status-building, for these one in four adult Chinese males, being single adds extra dimensions of undesirability. Deep personal anger and frustrations must inevitably be a byproduct of these societal pressures.
The US certainly has groups of men frustrated by their lack (or perceived lack) of romantic options, and it's possible that some of China's single men will look like them. China already has at least one professional pickup artist, who models himself on American ur-PUA Neil Strauss. Will PUA tactics and all the grossness that surrounds them pick up steam in China as the number of single men increases? It's not clear whether China already has groups like True Forced Loneliness, whose members angrily blame women for refusing to date them, but it's certainly possible that some men's frustration could turn to misogyny. It's also possible that Chinese men will look for partners abroad. That might alleviate the gender imbalance — but would it also produce anti-Chinese-woman rhetoric like that spewed by psychos who hate American women? Whatever the case, it's pretty clear that the large-scale frustration of single Chinese men — if indeed it comes to pass — will be something the whole country has to deal with.