Friday, March 11, 2011

Free trade saves the day?...

It's a stretch but at least one economist thinks China's savings glut is fueled by their worsening sex ratio (men/women population). Here's his logic:

The lack of a social safety net is often blamed for the high Chinese saving rate. Without welfare and government pensions the Chinese must save to self-insure themselves. But Mr Wei pointed out that even as the government has extended more social welfare programmes, the saving rate has continued to rise. He believes the uneven sex ratio can explain half of the increase in private saving between 1990 and 2005. He explained that the marriage market is becoming very competitive with so few girls. Chinese parents want to accumulate as much wealth as possible to ensure that their son can attract a wife. It is also important to provide sons with the best education possible. A competitive marriage market means that members of the disadvantaged gender must raise their game, which in China means greater wealth and education.
Mr Wei also reckons the sex ratio can explain capital accumulation in the corporate sector. The desire to accumulate wealth means that boys and their parents are more likely to become entrepreneurs, work more hours and take more unpleasant jobs. He found higher rates of entrepreneurship in areas with more skewed sex ratios.
Many different factors can explain global trade imbalances. The currency likely plays a role alongside high saving rates. But unless Chinese citizens start to consume more, a large fraction of the Chinese current-account surplus will persist. Too much saving may seem like an enviable problem, but there can be too much of a good thing. If sex ratios are as important as Mr Wei’s argues, the only way the Chinese can restore global financial order is to either import women from other countries, export men, or promote polyandry. [More]
Then if our economy is saving too little, and our sex ratio is slightly the reverse...

No, no don't tell me - I've just about got it.

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