In recent years, China has seen a significant decline in marriage rates and a simultaneous rise in “bride prices,” according to a report by state-run media outlet Xinhua.
The report cites several reasons for the declining marriage rates, including rising living costs and increased pressure to build a stable career before settling down. Additionally, the country’s one-child policy, which was in place from 1979 to 2015, has resulted in a gender imbalance, with more men than women in the country.
These factors, coupled with changing attitudes towards marriage and traditional gender roles, have led to a decline in the number of people getting married in China. In 2020, the number of marriages in the country fell to its lowest level in over a decade.
At the same time, the cost of getting married in China has increased, with “bride prices” becoming more common. Traditionally, the groom’s family pays a “bride price” to the bride’s family as a way of showing respect and gratitude. However, in recent years, this practice has become more commercialized, with families demanding higher and higher prices for their daughters.
According to the Xinhua report, the average “bride price” in China in 2020 was around 110,000 yuan ($16,900), up from around 88,000 yuan ($13,500) in 2016.
The rise in “bride prices” has led to concerns about financial pressures on young couples and has also been linked to the rise in “leftover men,” or men who are unable to find a partner due to the gender imbalance.
To address these issues, the Chinese government has launched several initiatives aimed at promoting marriage and increasing birth rates. These include tax breaks and housing subsidies for couples who have more than one child, as well as campaigns aimed at encouraging young people to get married earlier.
However, some experts argue that these initiatives may not be enough to address the underlying issues driving the decline in marriage rates.
“It’s not just about money, it’s about changing social attitudes,” said Jiang Quanbao, a professor at Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University. “Many young people in China are questioning the traditional expectations placed on them by their families and society, and that’s not something that can be changed by government policy alone.”
Despite these challenges, some couples in China are finding creative ways to navigate the changing landscape of marriage. Some are turning to online matchmaking services, while others are choosing to live together without getting married, a trend known as “naked marriage.”
As China continues to grapple with the complexities of modern relationships, it remains to be seen how attitudes towards marriage and “bride prices” will evolve in the years to come.