In the annals of unintended consequences, this one takes the cake:
The confluence of China’s “one child per family” policy (now several decades in force) and the Chinese cultural preference for male children to “carry the family name” resulted in a dynamic where families in China who only get one chance to have a child, want to get it “right.”
And by “right,” they mean a boy/male heir.
Consequently, sex-selection abortions are rampant.
Depending on the region in China, there are about 117~120 boys born, for every 100 girls.
In a nation of a billion+ people, where female fetuses are wiped out by the millions every decade, the net result is that China has approximately 30 million surplus men between age 25 to 40 who will never find a partner.
To put that into perspective, 30 million is greater than the entire adult population of California. 30 million is also greater than the combined adult populations of Texas plus New York.
30 million is more than the total adult population of Canada.
China has 30 million young men who will never marry and never find a mate.
Guys, you know how cranky you get, when you haven’t been laid in a few months.
Now multiply that by 30 million, then multiply that by FOREVER.
You will never know the love of this woman. Or any other woman.
This has a number of terrible consequences.
At the margins, women are a civilizing influence on men – men with a mild propensity to join a gang or engage in other antisocial behavior but find themselves a wife refocus their attention to providing for a family.
Absent that influence, and with nothing else to live for, they engage in criminal conduct. We see this happening already in the rising crime rates amongst restless unmarried men in China, and this will grow in time.
More troubling – the dearth of females in China has catalyzed the largest and most voracious demand for sex trafficking in the Pacific rim.
Scumbag pimps/smugglers know there exists a horny and bottomless pool of sexually-frustrated men who cannot find sexual release without paying for it.
Consequently, there exists a pipeline of girls (some as young as 10~12) from poorer regions in Asia (primarily Thailand, Philippines, Laos, Vietnam) who are kidnapped/tricked/bought from their homeland and smuggled into China, where they are sold to brothels.
These girls face a cruel life of unending sexual exploitation that often ends with death; many do not live past age 20.
Those who survive bear the horrific scars of being forced to sexually service dozens of strangers a day, along with whatever STDs they pick up along the way. They are broken, penniless, psychologically shattered and discarded.
In terms of aggregate human misery as a result of a single government policy, there are few that rival China’s “one child” rule.