Man plans and God laughs: consequences of China's preference for male babies.
From the Wall Street Journal:
With no eligible women in his village, Zhou Pin, 27 years old, thought he was lucky to find a pretty bride whom he met and married within a week, following the custom in rural China.
Ten days later, Cai Niucuo vanished, leaving behind her clothes and identity papers. She did not, however, leave behind her bride price: 38,000 yuan, or about $5,500, which Mr. Zhou and his family had scrimped and borrowed to put together.
Thanks to its 30-year-old population-planning policy and customary preference for boys, China has one of the largest male-to-female ratios in the world. [A study] estimates there was a surplus of 32 million males under the age of 20 at the time the census was taken. That's roughly the size of Canada's population.
China's cultural preference for boys has resulted in a dearth of marriageable brides... Xin'an Village ... has over 30 men of marriageable age, but no single women. ... in 2002-03 villagers noticed a sharp spike in [brice] prices, which shot up to between 6,000 to 10,000 yuan -- several years' worth of farming income.