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Fewer, and fewer, getting married in China as apathy hits the young

China’s marriage rate falling for five straight years was the lowest in 2018, an official report said, revealing a glaring disinterest among the young to get married.

The new statistics are a worry for and a warning to the Chinese government as the world’s most populous country grapples with an aging and declining population.

“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,” the official news agency, Xinhua quoted statistics from the national bureau of statistics (NBS) and the ministry of civil affairs (MCA) as saying.

“The figures vary in different regions. The more developed regions have lower rates of marriage,” the report said. The stats revealed China’s financial capital, Shanghai, and Zhejiang province saw the lowest marriage rates, at 0.44 percent and 0.59 percent, respectively.

Population experts have said increasing living costs, the rising cost for children’s education and high housing prices are among the reasons contributing to the fallen rate.

Interestingly, the Chinese government’s decision to loosen the one-child policy hasn’t helped the birth rate to rise – another pointer that the younger generation is increasingly cautious about finances for the future.

The decrease is also closely related to the changing demographic structure, Shi Zhilei, from Zhongnan University of Economics and Law, told Xinhua.

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,” Lu added.

Another state media report quoted the China Statistical Yearbook 2018 as showing that there were around 240 million single people in China, as the number of unmarried people above the age of 15 totalled 215 million in 2017, while the number of divorced people reached 23 million.

The Communist Party of China’s (CPC) official newspaper, People’s Daily, recently launched an online poll to ask the eligible about why they were not getting married. “Not meeting the right people” was listed as the top reason why young people are staying single, with 29.5 percent of the 33,330 respondents choosing this reason.

Other reasons include “being unable to share the family burden” (23.4 percent), “enjoying single life” (16.5 percent), “living an unstable life” (12.3 percent), “too much work pressure” (8.8 percent) and “pursuing academic development,” a state media report said.