'Too Many Men' in Asia Could Drive Culture Change

Categories: social

What? Psychology Today cites that conventional wisdom has led us to believe that high male-to-female ratios lead to violent and promiscuous societies (particularly if young men struggle to find economic security). However, new evidence suggests that the dating market dynamic of this gender imbalance could bring the opposite effect. Anthropologist Ryan Schacht suggests that when men face greater competition for partners, they prioritize finding a mate and settling down, causing marriage rates to increase while crime rates decrease. Men adapt their behaviour in these circumstances in line with what women are generally seeking — devoted and committed partners.

So what? The adaptation of behaviour may result in men assuming greater responsibilities at home, enabling a shift to more flexible gender roles in Asia. While living standards rose quickly in Asia, cultural norms have adjusted more slowly, notably in Japan and South Korea, where women continue to feel they must choose between having a career or a family. Many are choosing the former, resulting in fertility rates well below replacement levels. The gender imbalance could be influential in resetting these norms, creating new opportunities for women's participation in Asian societies and perhaps leading to a recovery of fertility rates. New gender roles could lead to a reinterpretation of collectivist values in Asian societies, or herald a shift to an individual rights perspective, to the benefit of marginalized groups.


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