井底之蛙

9/19/2005

What is a family?

Filed under: — Alan Baumler @ 10:43 am

Via Reason’s Hit and Run I find this story about a Taiwanese women who wanted to harvest the sperm of her recently deceased fiancée so that she could get pregnant by him. Reason of course played up the sex angle, but I found it interesting from a cultural angle. The article referenced (from Taipei Times) is pretty useless from a legal point of view, but it did say that the state had ruled in favor of her petition. I sort of wondered what the man’s parents thought of this, although they were not mentioned in the piece, since they would be the obvious ones to control his “body” under American law. (The state had a special interest in this man because he was in the army at the time of his fatal accident.)

I was struck by the woman’s desire to have a baby with someone who was dead. Taipei Times stated that there had already been some 80 cases like this in the U.S. I would assume that all of these were wives who wanted to have more children with their husbands. According to one write-up I found, the fiancée claimed to already be married in the eyes of the family, and that she wanted to ensure that there would be descendents.

孫吉祥的女友表示,孫吉祥在九月初請假返家時,已經跟她完成家族婚禮,因此,要求取精生子,留個後代

This seems a rather old-fashioned way of looking at family law, and apparently one that the state was frowning on at first, but then the gave in under public pressure. For any American, of course, going out of your way to become a single mom would seem a bad idea. For this woman one can speculate that she is hoping to get whatever benefits come with being a military widow. True Love is also a possibility. I would guess that cementing her position in the man’s family, in the old-fashioned way we all teach about in Chinese history classes is the most likely

Another write-up here

Suicide in China

Filed under: — Jonathan Dresner @ 2:10 am

Simon World’s HK Dave has a nice discussion of recent Chinese suicide statistics.

The Independent of Britain ran a story on the high suicide rate in China – 250,000 people killed themselves last year; according to the article they were victims of the country’s fast changing society. Unfortunately, numbers on that scale look shocking to anyone not from China, including the article’s author. You would need to look at the rate per 100,000, which is the measure adopted by most countries globally. There you discover that China is slightly lower than the global norm of 25 per 100,000 as provided by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2000. However, that rate is certainly increasing if you compare it to the rate of China in 1999 of 13.0 for men and 14.8 for women, a worrying trend.

The first chart here suggests that 1999 might have been something of a trough, in statistical terms, so that the long-term rates are still open to question, but the second one suggests that suicide is the leading cause of death for all Chinese, which is astounding.

For homework, here’s the detailed country reports (PDFs, but small) for the US (surprisingly stable over the last half century), Japan (huge peak in older males since the Bubble burst), and China mainland, 1987-99 (almost zero gender differential) and HK.

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