Study: Low Male: Female Ratios Mean Greater Societal Dysfunction

August 31, 2016 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

To those familiar with the economic concept (i.e. supply and demand) of male/female relationships, this information will come as no surprise (Science Daily, 8/24/16). To those in thrall to the radical feminist notion that men are per se dangerous and the fewer of them the better, it will come as quite a shock.

Years ago, Professor Roy Baumeister of Florida State University put forward the idea that men and women’s mating behavior has a lot to do with supply and demand. That is, males will behave differently when there are comparatively many females than they will when there are comparatively few. The linked-to article reports on studies by two researchers at the University of Utah whose findings dramatically corroborate Baumeister’s theory. Anthropologists Ryan Schacht and Karen Kramer first studied communities in Guyana that had, for one reason or another, an imbalance of men and women.

After conducting interviews with more than 300 people, he found that in villages with female-skewed ratios, men behaved stereotypically, engaging in risky sexual behaviors and preferring short-term relationships. But in villages with male-biased ratios, the men preferred sexually committed, long-term relationships with a single partner.

So far, nothing but the economics of mate selection explains that behavior. When women are plentiful, why would a man settle down with one; after all, there’s always another due to their relative abundance. On the other hand, when women are few, a man counts himself lucky to be in an intimate relationship with one and so is more ready to commit and be monogamous.

The reason, Schacht believes, may lie in an economic theory of mate selection, rooted in the law of supply and demand. "If you are the relatively rare sex, you can be more demanding of a potential partner. You can be choosier, and of the partner you choose, you can be more demanding of what you want in a relationship." When faced with an abundance of women, men’s "choosiness" may manifest through a preference for multiple partners and short-term, uncommitted relationships.

But what’s true in a few villages in Guyana may not be true of, for example, the United States. So Schacht and Kramer examined U.S. Census Bureau data.

To extrapolate Schacht’s findings to a larger, Western population, Schacht and Kramer used U.S. Census data to test the association between sex ratio imbalance and family outcomes across 2,800 counties in all 50 states. They evaluated the relationship between gender ratios and four variables indicative of family stability: The percentage of women and men married in each county, as well as numbers of female-headed households and out-of-wedlock births…

Schacht’s results from Guyana held true in the U.S. Adults were more likely to be married if they lived in male-biased counties than if they lived in female-biased counties. Rates of female-headed households and out-of-wedlock births, both factors associated with so-called "fragile families" were lower in male-biased counties. Thus, contrary to popular intuition, they found that when women are rare men are more likely to marry, be part of a family and be sexually committed to a single partner.

In short, socially stabilizing behavior like intact families and committed relationships between men and women tends to occur more in areas in which there’s a plethora of men. That dramatically contradicts received wisdom that holds that, since men are more likely to commit crime and acts of violence, the more men there are the worse for society. Of course that “wisdom” fails to account for men’s mating behavior and the fact that married men, particularly those with children, are far less likely to engage in a range of anti-social behaviors, including commission of crime. And sure enough, Schacht’s work bears that out.

In a related study, supporting these findings, Schacht found that violent crime rates were also lower in male-biased counties.

Schacht and Kramer’s findings demand a refiguring of what social scientists have heretofore assumed to be true.

Male abundance is particularly worrisome to social scientists because criminological studies consistently find that men are predominantly both the perpetrators and victims of violence. Additionally, men, in general, are typically more aggressive, competitive and prone to risky behavior than women, leading to the prediction that unmarried men destabilize both families and societies.

That prediction turns out to be wrong.

"We’re trying to challenge notions of male abundance driving negative outcomes," Schacht says. "While unbalanced sex ratios are an important source of family instability and social insecurity, it is increasingly being shown that much of our concern should be reoriented to populations with too many women."

Where might we find those populations, and why? One example would be predominantly black communities in the United States. One of the salient features of those communities is the number of young black men (read: those in their most important reproductive years) in prison. That obviously lowers the ratio of men to women.

So does the number of black men who die at an early age. As this article shows, homicide is the leading cause of death to black males between the ages of 15 and 34 (Politifact, 8/24/14). Black men of those ages are ten times as likely to die by homicide as are white men in the same age range and twice as likely as Hispanic men.

Plus, black women often respond to the question “Why have children out of wedlock?” with “There aren’t any good men to marry.” That point of view likely reflects exactly what Schacht and Kramer found to be true. If, in black communities, the ratio of men in their reproductive years to women in theirs is relatively low, behavior on the part of men is likely to be less committed and therefore less marriageable.

And of course the lack of fathers in children’s (particularly boys’) lives tends to result in men who are of dubious value on the marriage market. That means still fewer men of marriageable quality, at least in the eyes of their potential partners. Again, the result is an effective reduction of the male: female ratio.

In short, there may be a self-sustaining dynamic at work that steadily decreases the ratio of men to women, resulting in male behavior that is the exact opposite of what we’d like if we’re interested in a social stability.

Schacht and Kramer’s work is vital to understanding male/female relationships. It’s also vital to understanding much of the dysfunction of society today.




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