The Great Chinese Famine
Between 1959 and 1961, Great Chinese Famine some 30 million people died of starvation. In China during the Great Leap Forward. A national policy led by Communist Party Chairman Mao Zedong. Great Chinese Famine To simultaneously increase agricultural production and exports as well as industrialization. Huge amounts of the nation’s grain were sold to raise money and pay off debts. While local farmers were ordered to abandon private plots for less productive communal farming. Or to abandon their harvests to take up steel and iron production.
so sparse in certain regions that for some, cannibalism was the only means of survival. The Great Chinese Famine is widely believed to be the worst famine in history. In his award-winning 2010 book Mao’s Great Famine, author Frank Dikotter of the University of Hong Kong. Argued that it actually spanned one to two years longer than the official count. And killed 15 million more people, claiming 45 million lives in all from 1958 through 1962. JA In 2008 she showed that in the pre- embryonic stage of development. Males have lower survival rates than females. When glucose levels are low, causing more females to be born. Trivers believes sex selection may happen even earlier, at the time of conception.
FAMINE AS Experiment
While working as a social demographer at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in 2008, Song became interested in the sex ratio decline that came out of the devastating Great Chinese Famine in the mid-20th century. Scholars had noticed a drop in male births during the 1960s, but they attributed it to data error “because they focused exclusively on the search for social explanations, and there were none,” says Song, like a cultural son preference. He saw the famine as a natural experiment for the adaptive sex ratio adjustment hypothesis.
In a paper published recently in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B (Biological Sciences) that looked at demographic data from more than 310,000 Chinese women, Song demonstrated a dramatic sex ratio decrease more than a year after the two-year famine began and lasting about two years after it ended, followed by an equally significant bounce back to pre-famine proportions. Trivers says the findings are consistent with previous studies of post-communist Poland and historical Portugal in which poor economic conditions, and in turn poor nutrition, predicted the birth of more girls. “Evolutionary theories provide a simple and elegant framework to explain and even predict such changes,” says Song, who is now a sociologist at Queens College of the City University of New York.
To that end, Song wants to reexamine sex ratio phenomena through a new framework he calls “integrated evolutionary social demography.” This type of cross-disciplinary model might help explain, for example, why the sex ratio returned to normal levels around 2007 in South Korea, despite enduring cultural son preference there. And the sex ratio decline in the West, where the proportion of boys and girls moves closer to 1-to-1, might explained by improved life expectancies reducing the gender difference in mortality in some regions, Song says.
But there’s still a long way to go before demographers embrace evolutionary theory. A panel of sociologists at the National Science Foundation recently turned down three of Song’s funding proposals; one reviewer even used the term “grade school reasoning” to describe the logic behind the adaptive sex ratio hypothesis. “The only way to make this change happen is to bring more funding, federal and private, into the field,” Song says — a grim solution in today’s economic climate. “As an individual researcher, the only thing I can do is to try to publish.” D