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IPFS News Link • China

Why China's Marriage Crisis Is An Existential Threat To The Country

•, by John Mac Ghlionn

Behind the bombastic rhetoric, however, there lies a truly sobering fact: new policies probably won't be enough to arrest China's demographic decline. Here's why.

In China, a hyper-traditional society, having a child out of wedlock is still frowned upon. Childbearing and childrearing are synonymous with marriage. Last year, the communist nation saw marriage rates hit a 35-year low. The sharp drop in marital vows comes at the same time China faces an impending demographic crisis. 2021 saw 7.6 million marriage registrations, the fewest since 1986. With falling birth rates and a rapidly aging population, China faces problems that are very much existential in nature.

In truth, China's marriage crisis has been an issue for the best part of a decade. In the space of six years, between 2013 and 2019, the number of Chinese citizens getting married fell from 23.8 million to 13.9 million, a 41 percent drop. Of course, the Chinese Communist Party's (CCP) ill-advised one-child policy, which was in place for 35 years (1980–2015), has resulted in far fewer people of marriageable age. The policy resulted in 400 million fewer babies being born.

China has also witnessed "changing attitudes to marriage, especially among young women who are becoming more educated and financially independent," according to CNN. Due to "widespread workplace discrimination" and "patriarchal traditions," an increasing number of women are saying no to marriage.

Some readers, I'm sure, will roll their eyes at the "patriarchal traditions" bit. If you happen to be one of them, I don't blame you. I have been highly critical of the ways in which the "p word" has been weaponized and demonized by many individuals in the United States and beyond. However, patriarchal traditions look a little different in China than, say, the United States or the UK. The Chinese, we're told, have a rather controversial saying: "If you don't beat your wife every three days, she'll start tearing up roof tiles." A quarter of Chinese women are victims of domestic violence. Every 7.4 seconds a wife is beaten by her husband. As is clear to see, Chinese women can be forgiven for having second thoughts about marriage, especially if they were raised in an abusive household.