In the past, communist states were known for periodic shortages of things like eggs, milk, and toilet paper. However, the People's Republic of China may have an even bigger problem on their hands -- a shortage of girls. If officials' predictions are correct, within 15 years there will be 30 million less women of marriageable age than men in the country.

The gender imbalance doesn't appear to be due to growth of the "He-Man Woman Haters Club," but to a rise in sex-selective abortions. The government's encouragement of one-child per family has prompted a society with a traditional preference for sons to illegally abort girls.

As China has about a third of the world's population, a gender imbalance like this will give rise to major problems not only for China, but the world. From the AP story:

The report predicted that by 2020 the imbalance would mean men of marriageable age especially those with low income or little education would find it difficult to find wives, resulting in possible social problems.

The problem is not just a rural issue, with the newborn gender imbalance also widening in cities. In the first 11 months of 2006, there were 109 boys born in Beijing for every 100 girls.

China Daily said one way to solve the problem would be to create a proper social security system so rural couples would not feel they needed a son to depend on when they get old.

Somehow a social security system doesn't seem quite adequate an answer. Perhaps it's time China revisits its population control polices before they lose their feminine side altogether!