Monday, January 22, 2007

Children in China

Beth Nonte Russell describes some of the effects of China's one-child policy in an op-ed in tomorrow's New York Times. As economist Amartya Sen first noted over a decade ago, one of the effects is a large number--60 million by 2010--of "missing" girls. Russell writes,

And what happened to these girls? According to the International Planned Parenthood Federation (a term that takes on a whole new meaning when referring to China), there are about seven million abortions in China per year, 70 percent of which are estimated to be of females. That adds up to around five million per year, or 50 million by the end of the decade; so where are the other 10 million girls? If even 10 percent end up in orphanages . . . well, you do the math.

Although many girls in China end up in orphanages, the U.S. Department of State reports that Americans adopted only 6,493 Chinese children last year, down from 7,906 the year before.

Why aren't there more adoptions? Russell blames new Chinese government policies designed to make adoption difficult.

Under the new Chinese adoption guidelines, the international adoption celebrity Angelina Jolie could not adopt from China (she’s not married, and alas, she and Brad have more than two divorces between them, which is a no-no); nor could the actress Meg Ryan (again, not married). Another person who is not eligible is yours truly. My husband is over 50, so I would have to trade him in, marry again, wait the required five years (another new rule) before beginning the adoption process, and by that time I would be sneaking up on 50 myself.

It is comforting to know that Madonna is still eligible, at least until she turns 50, gets fat (the new regulations call for a body mass index of less than 40), gets divorced or goes broke (anyone with a net worth of under $80,000 is excluded).

Meanwhile, Chinese authorities are predicting "confusion in the social order" as more and more young males face the reality that there are simply not enough women to meet the demand in the marriage market.