Political advisors call for housing discounts for young people living alone
Published: Mar 10, 2021 10:33 PM
Photo taken on May 16, 2016 shows a real estate project in Hangzhou, capital of east China's Zhejiang Province.File photo:Xinhua

Photo taken on May 16, 2016 shows a real estate project in Hangzhou, capital of east China's Zhejiang Province.File photo:Xinhua

A Chinese political advisor proposed that the government offer housing discounts for single young people who live alone in order to boost the marriage rate and tackle physical and mental problems caused by the group's growing population.

The suggestion was put forward by Hu Wei, a member of the National Committee of Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), China's top political advisory body, during the two sessions.

Hu, who is also a member of the Central Committee of the China Association for Promoting Democracy, proposed providing preferential mortgage policies and purchase subsidies for single young people when buying houses, as well as providing long-term public rental housing for those who cannot afford to buy houses. 

Hu said he made the suggestion due to the rising number of "empty-nest" young people in China, a term that refers to those who are single and live alone, mostly in rental apartment. 

Many Chinese young people nowadays choose to live alone because they believe being in a relationship means they will need a bigger rental apartment and that they will have to buy an apartment when they get married. 

Statistics showed that there were more than 77 million "empty-nest" young people across the country in 2018. The number is expected to rise to 92 million in 2021. 

"The group's growing population could to some extent affect the overall marriage and fertility rates in the country, and also lead to an increase in the number of young people with physical and mental problems," Hu said.

Hu said that high housing prices and rent scares single young people away from getting into a relationship and marriage, especially in big cities in China.

On Chinese social media, netizens also shared their views on why the population of young "empty-nesters" continues to rise. The topic on Sina Weibo received 15,000 discussions and 250 million views as of press time.

Hu's proposal won support from some netizens, while others believed it is easy to say but hard to implement due to the large number of the group and certain policy challenges. 

"Decreasing the cost of housing and renting may help some young people get out of the 'empty-nest' state to some extent, but it cannot solve the problem once for all," said Zhao Lianfei, a member of the expert committee for youth development planning of the Youth League central committee and a fellow researcher of the Institute of Sociology at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. 

Zhao told the Global Times on Wednesday that the high housing prices holding back young people from getting into a relationship or marriage are just one factor behind the growing number of young "empty-nesters," while another important reason is the fact that young Chinese people's attitudes towards relationship and marriage have changed.  

Some netizens hold the same views as Zhao, saying that they would still prefer to live alone even when they can afford a house. 

"For me, the concept of 'empty nest' is less about 'nest', and more about 'empty'. I purely enjoy being alone and this state of 'emptiness'," commented one Weibo user.  

According to data released by the People's Think Tank, nearly 80 percent of young "empty-nesters" choose to live alone for reasons such as "being tired of social interaction," or "to avoid family responsibilities."

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