New York, Aug 27 (IANS) If you thought places with more men than women are likely to experience higher rates of family and social instability, think again! New research has found that surpluses of men are associated with lower crime rates, higher levels of marriage and relationship commitment.
The findings, published in the journal PLOS ONE, are a contrast to prevailing theories that an abundance of single men leads to crime, violence and broken homes.
“We’re trying to challenge notions of male abundance driving negative outcomes,” said anthropologist Ryan Schacht from the University of Utah in the US.
Male abundance is particularly worrisome to social scientists because criminological studies consistently find that men are predominantly both the perpetrators and victims of violence.
Additionally, men, in general, are typically more aggressive, competitive and prone to risky behaviour than women, leading to the prediction that unmarried men destabilise both families and societies.
Schacht and his colleague Karen Kramer, who is also from the University of Utah, used US Census data to test the association between sex ratio imbalance and family outcomes across 2,800 counties in all 50 states.
They evaluated the relationship between gender ratios and four variables indicative of family stability – the percentage of women and men married in each county, as well as numbers of female-headed households and out-of-wedlock births.
An intriguing picture emerged as Schacht mapped out gender ratios across every county.
“Every state has counties that are both male and female-biased,” he said.
The researchers found that adults were more likely to be married if they lived in male-biased counties than if they lived in female-biased counties.
Rates of female-headed households and out-of-wedlock births, both factors associated with so-called “fragile families” were lower in male-biased counties.
Thus, contrary to popular intuition, they found that when women are rare men are more likely to marry, be part of a family and be sexually committed to a single partner.
In a related study, supporting these findings, Schacht found that violent crime rates were also lower in male-biased counties.
“Men may be less interested in committed relationships when they are relatively rare and partners are abundant. Men may be less interested in settling down with a single partner when there are multiple options available,” Schacht noted.
“The cool thing is that this finding is robust across 2,800 counties in the US for all outcomes of family stability,” he said.