China experiences drop in marriage rate

Photo: Xinhua

China has witnessed a drop in the marriage rate since 2013, Chinese authorities recently said.

Over three million couples got married across the country during the first quarter of 2018, according to data from the Ministry of Civil Affairs of China.

However, that number decreased by 5.7 percent over the same period last year, and almost 30 percent since 2013, when the figure stood at about 4.3 million.

Moreover, statistics also indicate that developed areas such as Shanghai, Tianjin and East China's Zhejiang province had lower marriage rates compared to underdeveloped areas such as southwest China's Guizhou Province, northwest China's Gansu Province and central China's Henan Province.

Sociology experts believe that the trend can be attributed to factors like a drop in marriage-age population, delay of marriage, changing view of love and ever-increasing pace of urbanization.

In East China's Jiangsu province, the average age that citizens get married has increased every year since 2013. According to official data, the average age of marriage for women in Shanghai was 28.14 in 2014.

"I failed to find time to have appointments with girls or attend any matchmaking events due to frequent overwork," Yu Xian, an accountant in Beijing, said when asked about the reasons for being single.

"The constant rise of living costs overwhelms me," Xu Shan, a white collar in Shanghai, said. "Once married, I have to consider the expenditure of buying a house and bringing up my children, which are real burdens for me. Therefore, I decided to delay my marriage."

"Marriage can affect my whole life, so I must find a girl who understands and loves me," Lu Zifu, a worker in the city of Nanjing, Jiangsu Province, said, adding that "Age shouldn't be the reason for getting married; love should."

Chinese young people's craze for pursuing higher education degrees is another cause of marriage rate decline, according to Professor Zhai Zhenwu, dean of the School of Sociology and Population Studies at the Renmin University of China in Beijing.

"Almost half of Chinese adults attain higher education, and the rising number of graduate and post-graduate students has raised the average age when young adults start a career and settle down," he said, adding that "generally, those who graduate with a bachelor's degree in China are about 23 years old, while in previous decades adults at such an age would have already been married."

The marriage rate decline has caused worries among Chinese parents who have long attached great importance to carrying on the family line, with some of them forcing their children to get married while urging the government to take actions to encourage the young people to get married.

In fact, the decline and delay of marriage in China is part of a global trend. The United States, most European countries and Japan have all gone through a similar process in recent years.

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