Published: 09:29, June 13, 2023 | Updated: 13:01, June 13, 2023
Couples tying knot in China fell to record low last year
By Luo Wangshu

Newlyweds pose for photos after marriage registration at a civil affairs bureau in Jianye District of Nanjing, east China's Jiangsu province, June 1, 2023. (PHOTO / XINHUA)

China had 6.8 million couples register for marriage last year, the lowest since 1986, further raising concerns about the nation's low birth rate.

According to the latest statistics released by the Ministry of Civil Affairs, there were 800,000 fewer marriages last year than in 2021.

It is the ninth year that the number of marriages in China has declined since peaking at 13.47 million in 2013.

In 2021, the number of marriages in China fell to 7.64 million. In 2020, it was 8.14 million, and in 2019 it was 9.27 million.

No matter for a man or woman, it is generally seen as okay to delay the age of marriage. Even in rural areas, where women tended to get married at an earlier age, we've seen the trend for the delay in the age of marriage, which reflects the whole picture of delaying the age of marriage.

Jiang Yongping, a researcher with the Women's Studies Institute of China

The reasons for the decline in the number of marriages include delaying marriage and childbearing, a decreasing number of marriageable people, changing attitudes and increasing social pressure, said Jiang Yongping, a researcher with the Women's Studies Institute of China.

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"No matter for a man or woman, it is generally seen as okay to delay the age of marriage. Even in rural areas, where women tended to get married at an earlier age, we've seen the trend for the delay in the age of marriage, which reflects the whole picture of delaying the age of marriage," she said.

Jiang also noted that the rising cost of marriage, such as the cost for the wedding and house prices, also caused a decline in the number of marriages or the delay of marriages.

In the past, many people paid less attention to material conditions, such as housing and cars. But now when the discussion comes to marriage, "mothers-in-law" usually require the prospective groom to buy a house, putting huge pressure on them, Jiang said.

The fall in marriages has drawn attention since in most cases marriage is a prerequisite for having children, she said.

Policies have been rolled out to encourage marriage, discouraging grooms from paying for pricy betrothal gifts to the bride's family and offering affordable housing programs, Jiang said.

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As the younger generation, mostly those born in the 1990s and 2000s, have grown up and worked in urban areas, received longer education and face greater employment competition, it is more likely for them to delay marriage and childbirth, said Yang Jinrui, deputy director of the Population and Family Planning Department of the National Health Commission.