A Brigham Young University professor told a national TV audience Sunday that China will experience a crime wave in coming years because its one-child-per-family policy has led to an overabundance of young males in the population.

Political science professor Valerie Hudson, who researched and wrote a book on China's gender imbalance along with former BYU graduate student Andrea den Boer, predicts China will have a "surplus" of 30 million men by 2020.

Many of those men will be prone to violence, according to Hudson's and den Boer's research, because they will not be able to find marriage partners, will struggle to find jobs and will have difficulty fitting into society.

"In world history, there has never been a bride shortage as large as is about to hit China," Hudson said during a report about the country's male surplus on the CBS news magazine "60 Minutes."

"When there are more men than women, social instability and crime increases in society."

According to the "60 Minutes" report, there are currently 125 school-aged boys for every 100 school-aged girls in China. And the imbalance is as great as 150 boys for every 100 girls in more rural parts of the country.

That, the report said, means as many as 40 million Chinese boys born since the country's one-child policy began in 1982 may be bachelors for their entire lives. And that, Hudson said, could mean trouble for China.

Hudson said marriage tends to have what psychologists have termed a "pacifying effect" on young men.

"When men who have been pretty extreme criminals, upon marriage and when the children begin to come, their criminal careers more or less end," she told "60 Minutes."

But without that influence, many Chinese men may be unable to break from that pattern, she suggested.

When asked, on camera, if she was "absolutely predicting" a crime wave for China, Hudson replied, "Yes, it's already happening."

The government of China has now launched a campaign to convince parents that having a baby girl is not only OK but even preferable. The report said the Chinese government has even promised an annual cash incentive for parents of daughters once the parents reach the age of 60. Laws also have been changed so that girls can inherit land from their parents.

Despite all of that, the gender imbalance is actually getting worse, according to a Chinese government official who talked to "60 Minutes." That, in part, is due to the fact that 12,000 female Chinese babies are adopted by foreigners — about two-thirds of them from the U.S. — each year.

"I don't think the Chinese government can really tackle the roots of the entrenched son preference until it raises that ceiling on the number of children" a couple can have, Hudson told "60 Minutes."

The Chinese government has allowed some parents in rural areas to have more than one child, the report said. But China appears unlikely to repeal the policy, which it says has limited the country's population growth by nearly 300 million people — a key to the country's economic success and rapid modernization.

Hudson's book, "Bare Branches: The Security Implications of Asia's Surplus Male Population," was published in 2004. It won the Association of American Publishers' Award for best professional/scholarly book in government and political science, and was a finalist for the Grawemeyer Award for Improving World Order.

E-mail: zman@desnews.com