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Bachelors like Li are dismissively branded as “bare branches” for failing to expand the family tree.

But as any forester knows, bare branches pose a danger, and not just to themselves.

Boys outnumbered girls in the isolated mountain village where he grew up, in the factories where he worked as a teenager, and on the construction sites where he now earns a modest wage.

Today, 30 years old, he lives in a bare, stuffy dormitory room with five other men in the southern city of Dongguan, bunk beds lining the walls, cigarette butts carpeting the floor.

“I want to find a girlfriend, but I don’t have the money or the opportunity to meet them,” he said.

“Girls have very high standards; they want houses and cars.

Indian and Chinese women who showed a marked preference for sons are growing old.

They are still burdened with cooking and cleaning for their adult sons, and the stress affects their health.

The basic function of a man in rural society is to have a family and look after that family.” “In rural areas, men who didn’t get married are really marginalized; even socializing in the village is difficult,” said Therese Hesketh, a professor of global health at University College London.

“These guys are depressed.” and lonely’ Li Weibin has never had a girlfriend.

After all, this is a culture where male children are desired above all else — to light the Hindu funeral pyre, inherit property, care for aging parents.

As the Sanskrit blessing says, “May you be the mother of a hundred sons.” Sometimes it felt to Om Pati like she was the mother of 100 sons. She consoled herself with the thought that she would one day have daughters-in-law to trade stories and share cooking duties. But by the time her eldest Sanjay — now 38 and a cook — reached marriageable age, the practice of families in her area sneaking off to larger cities for an illegal sonogram and then an abortion had taken its toll.

Out of China’s population of 1.4 billion, there are nearly 34 million more males than females — the equivalent of almost the entire population of California, or Poland, who will never find wives and only rarely have sex.