Thanks to the one-child policy, China is the most gender imbalanced country in the world—with 117.78 boys for every 100 girls. In 2012, the Chinese government estimated that the country had 40 million more males than females, with the difference growing larger every year. If China’s sex ratio holds steady, there will be 55 million “extra” males by 2020 (so says this estimate).1
China’s government has made reducing the gender imbalance a national policy priority—but much of the societal damage may already be done. In a recent study published in Asian Population Studies, economists Jane Golley at Australian National University and Rod Tyers at the University of Western Australia found that having a higher proportion of males contributes to higher levels of savings. (The thinking is that a bigger bank account makes for a more desirable marital prospect.) In the long term, excess savings depress the “real exchange rate” (that is, how much goods and services are worth in one country versus another), damaging the global economy.