Deng Lingling (L) and Deng Junwei kiss while displaying their marriage certificates in front of the marriage registration office of the Civil Affairs Bureau of Nanshan District in Shenzhen, south China's Guangdong Province, Feb. 14, 2020. (Photo: Xinhua)
Fewer young people in China are willing to get married, and the country has seen a continuous sharp drop in the marriage rate and increase in the divorce rate in the past eight years, a survey showed.
From 2013 to 2020, the number of marriage registrations fell from a record high of 13.47 million couples to 8.13 million, according to a report by Tsinghua University's Evergrande Research Institute.
The number of first marriages dropped from 23.86 million to 13.987 million from 2013 to 2019, and the average age was between 25 and 29, instead of between 20 and 24 as previously.
Data from 2005 to 2019 showed the proportion of marriage registrations by couples aged 20 to 24 decreased from 47.0 percent to 19.7 percent.
Marriage rates fell differently among regions, and they were generally negatively correlated with GDP. The more prosperous a city was, the lower the marriage rate was. Marriage rates also fell markedly in provinces with population outflows and aging problems.
The pursuit of personal freedom and independence, as well as the high cost of raising children, are behind the decreasing willingness to get married, said Ren Zeping, dean of the Evergrande Research Institute.
High housing prices and high education costs have also deterred young people from getting married, especially in big cities, Ren told the Global Times on Tuesday.
On the Twitter-like Sina Weibo platform, the topic with the hashtag "Why young people dare not to get married" trended on Tuesday with over 33 million views as of press time.
"There are many answers, but the basic one is the lack of an efficient social security system. There is too much pressure in life. People's concepts of family and clan are changing as well," a netizen said.
Although many netizens said they feel pressure to find the right person, both from their parents and themselves. Many are also wary of divorce if things don't work out.
Many opt for being single as they believe that the gap between the rich and the poor means staying alone is a better choice. Some also worried that marriage would affect their careers.
Ren noted that single people generally have low savings and pursue a life of high quality, which boosts consumption on entertainment and pets. But the decline in the marriage rate, drop in the fertility rate and increase in the aging population are interconnected, posing a big challenge to China's gender equality and social development.