Last week China released new census data showing that Chinese families favor sons over daughters. In 2014, according to the data, Chinese women gave birth to 115.9 boys for every 100 girls. (The natural human birth ratio is around 105 boys to every 100 girls.) Skewed gender ratios of this sort date back to the early 1980s, and the impact has been cumulative. China now has 33 million more men than women, tens of millions of whom may never be able to find mates.

The Chinese government has recently attempted to alter this dynamic by loosening its family planning policies. But new research suggests that this well-meaning policy shift could be counter-productive.

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