Gender imbalance in China has resulted in the country having the highest number of single men in the world

By Nina Steele 

Single Chinese menIt is estimated that as many as 30 million Chinese men will never marry because of the gender imbalance in the country. Currently as it stands “118 boys are born for every 100 girls in China, compared to the world average of 103 to 107”. As sad as this issue may come across, it didn’t happen by chance. It is a direct result of the country’s one child policy and the traditional preference for boys over girls, which has led to many girls being aborted.

On top of these two factors, the high cost involved in getting married has contributed to making things worse. It is estimated that: “the average amount of money needed to marry is 100,000 yuan (£10,993)” and that “betrothal gifts are becoming big business as families realise they can use their daughters to claim a substantial amount of cash”.

Ironically, as a result of this imbalance, the power structure within this section has shifted from men to women. Indeed, young Chinese women have become very picky about who to marry, and most of them won’t even consider a man, unless he owns a property. In a newsweek article entitled: ‘Gender imbalance: How China’s One child law backfired on men’, one young Chinese woman said bluntly: “I wouldn’t even go out with a guy who didn’t own a house, never mind marry him”. Not only that, a growing number of young married Chinese women are no longer willing to put up with husbands who behave badly. One woman who divorced her husband after he cheated on her said: “why should I put up with that? If I want to get remarried, it’s not as if there’s a shortage of men. My ex was crazy to think I was going to stick around.’’

All the signs are that things will only get worse, particularly for men in rural areas who are often poor and as such, are deemed not marriage material. Economist Nicholas Eberstadt summarised what the future holds for Chinese single men as follows: “China will face a growing number of young men who will never marry. By 2030, projections suggest that more than 25% of Chinese men in their late 30s will never have married. The coming marriage squeeze will likely be even more acute in the Chinese countryside, since the poor, uneducated and rural population will be more likely to lose out in the competition for brides.”

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