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China’s Birth Rate Plummeting As Women Forego Marriage

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China's Birth Rate Plummeting As Women Forego Marriage

More women in China are forgoing marriage and Chinese relationships are changing due to cultural, social, and economic factors. Marriage rates are falling, breaking national standards.

Chinese women reject marriage for many reasons, including changing societal expectations and a focus on personal growth. Economic factors like financial independence and job prospects are also changing relationship dynamics.

Younger generations are changing their marriage views as the one-child policy continues to affect society. Modern Chinese want autonomy and redefining gender norms. China’s population decreased for a second year and new births reached record lows last year, prompting President Xi Jinping to “cultivate a new culture of marriage and childbearing”.

In this year’s government work report, Chinese Premier Li Qiang pledged to “work towards a birth-friendly society” and improve childcare.

The Communist Party stigmatizes and denies privileges to unmarried mothers, believing the nuclear family is the foundation of society. However, “singleism” is gaining popularity among educated women facing unprecedented insecurity due to record youth unemployment and an economic crisis.

China’s single population over 15 reached a record 239 million in 2021, according to Reuters. Due to a pandemic backlog, marriage registrations rose somewhat last year after reaching record lows in 2022. A 2021 Communist Youth League survey of 2,900 unmarried urban youth indicated that 44% of women do not plan to marry.

China's Birth Rate Plummeting As Women Forego Marriage

Family expectations and cultural standards influence Chinese women’s marriage decisions. In order to reduce population increase, China’s one-child policy has instilled family heritage and continuity. Families pressure women to marry and have children to fit society.

China still views marriage as a milestone of adulthood, and few adults never marry. According to census data, the average age of first marriage in China is growing to 28.67 in 2020 from 24.89 in 2010, another evidence of its waning popularity.

Shanghai figures show 30.6 men and 29.2 women last year.

After decades of expanding women’s education, workforce engagement, and social mobility, Chinese authorities now face a problem as the same women become increasingly resistant to their propaganda.

As long-term singleism grows in China, online networks of predominantly single women seek solidarity from like-minded people.

Chinese women’s marital views are changing as gender equality improves. Some people are leaving traditional marriages to pursue personal growth and fulfillment as society changes and women gain more independence.

China's Birth Rate Plummeting As Women Forego Marriage

Many women question the current quo and the idea that marriage defines their identity in search of autonomy and self-realization. On China’s Instagram, “No marriage, no children” posts by 30- or 40-year-old female influencers get thousands of likes.

One Douban anti-marriage site has 9,200 members, while another advocating “singleism” has 3,600 members who discuss collective retirement planning and other subjects.

China’s marital future appears to be changing. Marriage is no longer a given as more women focus on professions, education, and self-improvement. Instead, more women are staying single or delaying marriage to achieve their ambitions.

This cultural shift reflects a societal transformation that empowers women to make choices that match their goals. The expectation of marriage is changing, offering women more opportunities to enjoy satisfying lives beyond the family.

As China navigates demography, cultural norms, and individual autonomy, policies and social frameworks must alter to foster women’s independence and self-fulfillment. China can adapt to these changes and create a more diverse and inclusive society for future generations by respecting women’s marital decisions.

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