The marriage rate is on the decline in China, with only 10.139 million marriages taking place in 2018, a 4.6% drop over the previous year, according to the Ministry of Civil Affairs. The current marriage rate dropped to 7.3% (measured as 7.3 per 1,000 total population) in 2018, which is the lowest level in over a decade. A recent national report also revealed that over 200 million Chinese adults are unmarried, with 77 million of them living alone.
Statistics compiled by the Ministry of Civil Affairs over the last five years show the steady drop in Chinese marriages. Since 2014, the number of marriages in the country has declined each year by an average of 0.57%. One major factor contributing to the drop in married folks is the increasing rate of divorce in the country. The divorce rate has risen 0.5% over the last five years, reaching 3.2% in 2017 and staying at the same level this past year. In 2018, the Ministry of Civil Affairs handled over 3.81 million divorce cases, while the courts also mediated 640,000 such cases.
Statistics compiled via Ministry of Civil Affairs
For those still single and trying to mingle, people are looking for more out of marriage than just having a child or getting mom and pops off their back (go figure). “I won’t get married just for the sake of getting married,” one individual in Beijing told National Business Daily. “If two people living together can match the happiness of one person living alone, then I would get married.” After all, if you tie the knot without being fully committed, you run the gambit of joining an increasing pool of divorcees.
Changes in marriage trends over the last 30 years are quite profound. For example, in 1990, only 0.6% women aged 30-35 years old were not married. That figure has jumped up to 7% today. And approximately 3.6% more women aged 35-40 years old are still single compared to figures in 1990.
So what’s this mean for birth rates in the Middle Kingdom?
In 2015, China ended its one-child policy in favor of having two children per family. However, if the number of marriages in China continues to fall, the significant policy shift by Beijing could be offset by an overall decline in birth rates. For example, in 2017 there were 17.23 million newborns added to the country’s population, which were approximately 630,000 fewer babies than in 2016.
How much of this drop in newborns can be attributed to a decreasing marriage rate isn’t entirely clear, as there are other factors that have people pumping the breaks on kids. Meanwhile, China’s population is expected to peak at 1.44 billion people in 2029.
[Cover image via Unsplash]