Marriage rate on the decline in China for 5 consecutive years

Source:Xinhua Published: 2019/4/6 22:54:18

China's marriage rate has been in decline for five years in a row as the younger generations delay or have given up on marriage.

The marriage rate dropped from 9.9 per 1,000 people in 2013 to a five-year low of 7.2 per 1,000 people in 2018, according to the National Bureau of Statistics and the Ministry of Civil Affairs.

The figures vary in different regions, with more developed regions having lower marriage rates.

Tying the knot is no longer seen as a necessity for today's young adults, with many preferring single life.

"The idea that singles are abnormal is so out of date. Being single won't make me anxious at all," said a 30-year-old woman who prefers to identify herself as Yang Le, which is a pseudo name.

With a steady salary and no mortgage, she enjoys her current lifestyle, goes to the gym every week and goes outdoors with her friends on vacations.

Compared with her married friends, Yang says she has more freedom to do what she likes. But she doe not reject marriage.

"There is no formula that fits everyone when it comes to marriage. Being single probably fits me best at present," Yang said.

Many young adults like Yang are postponing marriage.

People between the ages of 20 and 24 had the highest record of marriage registrations before 2012, while people between the ages of 25 and 29 became the mainstay in 2017, accounting for 36.9 percent of all registered couples, according to MCA statistics.

"The attitude toward marriage and giving birth is changing among those born in the 1980s or 1990s, with more choosing to marry late or not to marry," said Lu Jiehua, professor of sociology with Peking University. "In an increasingly tolerant society, marriage is not the only option."

The growing costs of living and child education are further factors in the downward trend in the marriage rate, according to experts.

According to a 2018 survey released in by, a popular matchmaking website, around 80 percent of women and 40 percent of men consider owning a house a necessity before getting married.

A report published by the China Institute for Educational Finance Research showed that the average cost of a child's education from kindergarten to high school accounted for 13.2 percent of a family's total cost in 2017, about 10.6 percent for rural families and 14.3 percent for urban families.

"As the cost of living rises in both urban and rural areas, many young adults cannot or temporarily cannot afford to get married," said Lu Xiaowen, a researcher with the Institute of Sociology of Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences.

Today's young people have a strong sense of individuality and are unwilling to be dragged down by household financial burdens, Lu said.

"I'd prefer a high-quality single life to a low-quality marriage" is a common refrain.

The decrease is also closely related to the changing demographic structure, said Shi Zhilei, associate professor with the School of Public Administration of the Zhongnan University of Economics and Law.

"With the country's population aging, the percentage of people at marriageable ages is dropping, which is bound to result in the decline of the marriage rate," Shi said.

For Liu Yuanju, a researcher at the Shanghai Institute of Finance and Law, it is normal for the marriage rate to drop in an increasingly developed society and the phenomenon should be viewed rationally. Nevertheless, for the purpose of raising fertility rates, measures should be taken to encourage more young adults to get married.

Experts have suggested that to boost the growth of marriage rate, authorities should prolong marriage and maternity leave and provide more low-rent housing for young city dwellers.

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