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Bare Branches: The Security Implications of Asia's Surplus Male Population (Belfer Center Studies in International Security) Paperback – September 23, 2005


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Editorial Reviews

Review

"...[A] well-documented study..." Susan H. Greenberg MSNBC



"...an impressive and comprehensive account of sex ratios..." James Q. Wilson The Wall Street Journal



"...Bare Branches has become a flashpoint for a debate about the link between sex ratios and security." Felicia R. Lee New York Times



"...connects the dots of a huge demographic trend that carries international implications." The Christian Science Monitor



"Exciting, innovative, refreshing...marks an important contribution at the nexus of the already burgeoning literatures addressingenvironmental and human security." Brendan Taylor Survival



" Bare Branches is a tour de force. It represents a groundbreaking contribution to the literature on gender and security studies. Hudson and den Boer call attention to the ticking time bomb of sex ratio imbalances, especially in East and South Asia, and its impact on the likelihood of domestic instability and inter-state war. All who address these issues in the future will need to contend seriously with the persuasive arguments made in this book." Rose McDermott, Assistant Professor of Political Science, University of California, Santa Barbara



" Bare Branches is an excellent book that represents a new approach to thinking about political stability and international politics. Hudson and den Boer draw from the life sciences to reveal historical patterns that other scholars have missed. They present comprehensive data on sex ratios and fascinating historical studies of social instability brought on by excess young males." Francis Fukuyama, Dean of Faculty and Bernard Schwartz Professor of International Political Economy, The Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University



" Bare Branches reveals a largely overlooked but important variable correlated with war and peace: high ratios of males to females. Through both historical and contemporary analyses, Hudson and den Boer show that in societies where women have low status, peaceful democracies are far less likely to take hold. All those who hope to understand the causes of war—in academe as well as in government—will have to be aware of these findings. A brilliant contribution to the literature on contemporary world affairs." Jessica Stern, Lecturer in Public Policy, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University



"*Bare Branches* is a tour de force. It represents a groundbreaking contribution to the literature on gender and security studies. Hudson and den Boer call attention to the ticking time bomb of sex ratio imbalances, especially in East and South Asia, and its impact on the likelihood of domestic instability and inter-state war. All who address these issues in the future will need to contend seriously with the persuasive arguments made in this book."--Rose McDermott, Assistant Professor of Political Science, University of California, Santa Barbara



"*Bare Branches* reveals a largely overlooked but important variable correlated with war and peace: high ratios of males to females. Through both historical and contemporary analyses, Hudson and den Boer show that in societies where women have low status, peaceful democracies are far less likely to take hold. All those who hope to understand the causes of war -- in academe as well as in government -- will have to be aware of these findings. A brilliant contribution to the literature on contemporary world affairs."--Jessica Stern, Lecturer in Public Policy, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University

About the Author

Valerie M. Hudson is Professor of Political Science and faculty affiliate at the David M. Kennedy School for International and Area Studies at Brigham Young University. She is the author of the books Culture and Foreign Policy and Artificial Intelligence and International Politics and coeditor of The Limits of State Autonomy: Societal Groups and Foreign Policy Formulation and Political Psychology and Foreign Policy.

Andrea M. den Boer is a a Research Fellow in the Department of Politics and International Relations at the University of Kent at Canterbury.
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Product Details

  • Series: Belfer Center Studies in International Security
  • Paperback: 344 pages
  • Publisher: The MIT Press; 1st edition (September 23, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0262582643
  • ISBN-13: 978-0262582643
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.8 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,060,616 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Valerie M. Hudson is Professor and George H.W. Bush Chair at The Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University. She has previously taught at Brigham Young, Northwestern, and Rutgers universities. Her research foci include foreign policy analysis, security studies, gender and international relations, and methodology. Hudson's articles have appeared in such journals as International Security, Journal of Peace Research, Political Psychology, and Foreign Policy Analysis. She is the author or editor of several books, including (with Andrea Den Boer) Bare Branches: The Security Implications of Asia's Surplus Male Population (MIT Press, 2004), which won the American Association of Publishers Award for the Best Book in Political Science, and the Otis Dudley Duncan Award for Best Book in Social Demography, resulting in feature stories in the New York Times, The Economist, 60 Minutes, and other news publications. Hudson was named to the list of Foreign Policy magazine's Top 100 Global Thinkers for 2009. Winner of numerous teaching awards and recipient of a National Science Foundation research grant and a Minerva Initiative grant, she served as the director of graduate studies for the David M. Kennedy Center for International and Area Studies for eight years, and served as Vice President of the International Studies Association for 2011-2012. Hudson is one of the Principal Investigators of the WomanStats Project, which includes the largest compilation of data on the status of women in the world today. She is also a founding editorial board member of Foreign Policy Analysis, and an editorial board member of Politics and Gender, the American Political Science Review, and the International Studies Review, has testified before the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Her most recent book is Sex and World Peace, co-authored with Bonnie Ballif-Spanvill, Mary Caprioli and Chad Emmett, and published by Columbia University Press, and her forthcoming book with Patricia Leidl, also from Columbia University Press, is entitled The Hillary Doctrine: Sex and American Foreign Policy. She and her husband David, a landscape architect, are the parents of eight children.

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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It was a very, very helpful and interesting book.
A. Michael
I thank Valerie Hudson and Andrea den Boer for and for giving us an understanding of the importance of gender issues in China and India.
Phil Wong
Interesting book, lots of historical facts to back up the theories.
A. Moore

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

27 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Stan A. Taylor on July 6, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This recent MIT Press book makes a significant contribution to national security literature and, at the same time, takes it in a new and exciting direction. Order-of-battle analysts would do well to add sex-ratios to the list of variables on which they collect information. Not every reader will be convinced by the argument of this book, but most will find it stimulating, thought-provoking, and very well-written. I hope it escapes the classification as solely a gender studies book. It is much more than that and deserves the attention of scholars, foreign policy experts, and national-security gurus.
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Nora Dedrick on June 25, 2004
Format: Hardcover
After reading the article about this book in the Chronicle of Higher Education, I purchased it out of pure curiosity, admittedly prepared to reject the idea that the surplus male population in Asia could pose a threat to international security. However, I was astounded by the authors' very convincing and thorougly researched findings, which highlighted what I never imagined was such a strong linkage between international security and gender selection in Asia. Not exactly "beach reading," but most definitely suitable for university teaching and a good read for anyone interested in gender selection or security issues.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By A. Moore on January 26, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Female infanticide is hardly new. The authors note that of 600 families in ancient Delphi only 1 percent raised more than one daughter. But what are the consequences? Violent, criminal men and a lowered status for women have been the historical consequences. Wars are another. This is not good news considering the high rate of female infanticide in China and India. Interesting book, lots of historical facts to back up the theories.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Phil Wong on September 4, 2006
Format: Paperback
In their academic work, Bare Branches, Valerie Hudson and Andrea den Boer describe the causes of the high sex ratio in China and India, observed effects and future implications. They also suggest policy options and evaluate their merits.

Sex ratio is the ratio of men to women. The average sex ratio worldwide is 105 (105 men for every 100 women). China and India have higher than average sex ratios that have lead to a large surplus of males on the order of millions in both societies.

The high sex ratio in China is driven by a long history of preference for sons over daughters to preserve the family name, provide agricultural labor and care for parents in their old age. The preference for sons is intensified by the one child policy that limits the number of children to one per family.

These cultural forces have resulted to sex selective abortions, infanticide and infant abandonment. Further they have resulted in bare branches - unmarried males with a propensity for substance abuse, gambling and violent crime. Typically these males are unemployed or underemployed, did not graduate from high school and lack a permanent residence. They tend to congregate in migrant bachelor subcultures.

Future implications are frightening. One possibility is a government unable to control large and violent bachelor subcultures. Another possibility is an increased recruitment into the military or police force - with attendant propensities for violence that may be directed internally or towards neighboring countries.

In this reviewer's opinion, of the several policies that could help the gender imbalance, these seem to have the highest probability of success.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By idahogerald on February 11, 2005
Format: Hardcover
There are millions of missing women in India and China--girl babies aborted or killed. What are the policy implications for a lopsided surplus of men for a country? "Bare Branches" explores this problem. Historically, the problem meant high crime and wars, and, oddly, a dramatic drop in freedom and value for women. An intesting book, should be widely read.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Donald A. Collins on November 6, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I first encountered these prescient researchers in 2001, about the time of 9/11. Things then were heating up between India and Pakistan and I wrote a 12/22/01 piece for The Social Contract entitled "The India/Pakistani War Comes From Unbalanced Population Growth" These authors,one at Brigham Young University, Valerie M. Hudson and Andrea M. Den Boer at University of Kent in the UK, had just published a landmark paper under the rather arcane title, "The Security Logic of High Sex Ratio Societies", a stunning article which points to "a variable that will become highly significant in Asia within the next two decades. That variable is the young adult sex ratio. The sex ratios of many Asian nations, including the two who now are facing off (again) Pakistan and India, are being skewed in favor of males on a scale unprecedented in human history."

Shortly afterwards in the distinguished periodical, "International Security", their article explored the "violent dynamics of ...high sex ratio populations", clearly identifying the potential security dangers for our planet which have resulted from the rapidly growing populations of the past hundred years and the bias favoring male children over females in key Asian nations.

"Normal birth sex ratios range between 105-107 males per 100 female births". Their data for 7 Asian countries (Afghanistan, Bangladesh, China, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Taiwan) shows "from 66 to 86 million of the missing females in Asia are attributed to the above", but two of them, "China and India together contribute to between 61 and 68 million." Many now feel the number is higher, perhaps 100 million. And the ratio in recent years has increased rapidly in both.
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