Journal article

China's Sex Ratio and Crime: Behavioural Change or Financial Necessity?

L Cameron, X Meng, D Zhang

The Economic Journal | Oxford University Press (OUP) | Published : 2019


This article uses survey and experimental data from prison inmates and comparable non-inmates to examine the drivers of rising criminality in China. We find that China's high sex ratios are associated with greater risk-taking, greater impatience and greater neuroticism amongst males. These underlying behavioural impacts explain some part of the increase in criminality. The primary avenue through which the sex ratio increases crime, however, is the direct pressure on men to appear financially attractive in order to find a partner in the marriage market. These marriage market pressures result in a higher propensity to commit financially rewarding crimes.