Marriages fall in 2021 leading to lower birth rates in China, despite declining divorce rate
Published: Mar 20, 2022 09:50 PM
Chinese wedding Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

The number of Chinese couples tying the knot dropped sharply in 2021 which an expert said would continue to cause a decline in China's birth rate, despite that the number of Chinese couples who got divorced in 2021 also dropped, a temporary effect caused by the cooling-off period stipulated by the newly enacted Civil Code last year. 

A total of 7.63 million couples registered to get married across the nation in 2021, a record low for the past 36 years since 1986 when the Ministry of Civil Affairs started to release such statistics. 

He Yafu, an independent demographer told the Global Times on Sunday that the decline in the number of marriage registrations will inevitably result in the decline of the birth rate in China, since most children are born within marriages in China. 

The number of marriage registrations across the nation has been decreasing sharply over the past three years with the number of couples who got married less than 10 million in 2019, less than 9 million in 2020, and less than 8 million in 2021. 

The number of couples who tied the knot in 2021 was only 56.6 percent of the number in 2013 when the number of marriage registrations reached a peak, according to news website 

According to He, marriage registration numbers in China have been declining for eight consecutive years due to a declining number of young people, more men than women of marriageable age and the decision to put off marriage until they are older. 

Besides, due to Chinese women's rising educational and economic development, their willingness to get married is even lower than that for men. 

Meanwhile, statistics from the Ministry of Civil Affairs showed that the number of Chinese couples who got divorced also reduced dramatically last year compared with the number in 2020. 

According to the latest statistics from the ministry, a total of 2.14 million couples registered their divorce across the nation in 2021, only accounting for 57.3 percent of the total number of 3.73 million couples in 2020. 

Before 2020, the number of couples who got divorced had increased in three consecutive years with 3.69 million in 2017, 3.8 million in 2018 and 4.04 million in 2019, according to The Paper. 

Many places which had previously released their marriage statistics for 2021 said the decreasing number of divorced couples was due to the cooling-off period set up for divorce registration in the Civil Code which was enacted on January 1, 2021.

For example, in Hefei, capital city of East China's Anhui Province, 16,851 local couples got divorced in 2021, an unconventional drop of over 51 percent compared with the number of 34,591 couples in 2020, according to Hefei Evening News. 

According to local civil affairs workers, as many as 30,107 local couples applied for divorce between January and November in 2021 but only 16,851 couples eventually got divorced, with 44 percent of divorce applicants withdrawing their applications actively or passively after the cool-off period. 

However, He pointed out that the decline in the number of divorces is probably a temporary effect resulting from the cool-off period, since China's divorce rates had increased between 2013 and 2020, consistent with the rising trend of divorce globally. 

Due to insufficient childbirth encouragement policies, He predicted that China will probably face negative population growth this year.