EN-Episode 76: China now has nearly 200 million single people

Original audio (translated transcript below):

Hello everyone, I’m Kaycee.

A while ago, there was this news that hit the news. It was that China now has almost 200 million single people. 200 million! The total population of the UK is only about 66.65 million. The total population of the United States is about 330 million. China’s total population is 1.398 billion. So, any way you look at it, the 200 million figure is a bit of a Doha. But, to be honest, when I first saw the news, I wasn’t really that surprised, as the net language has revealed a lot about this in recent years, with net language like single dog, spreading dog food, mother and child solo, lemon juice single, stubbornly single, single by ability, single for ten thousand years and so on more or less reflecting this trend.

But now that I’ve seen the news, I have to look into the reasons behind this. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be me.

It is said that Mr. Liu Yan of Southwest Securities has produced a report called “A Thousand Miles to Find Him, That Man May Be Deep in the Screen”. If you don’t understand this little humour at first glance, you can listen to the issue where I talk about the naming of Baidu and then come back and taste the name carefully. This report points out that due to the imbalance in the sex ratio of the birth population, it has become more difficult to get married and the problem of marriage for single men and women has become a problem that society urgently needs to solve.

In fact, there have been three waves of singles in China.

The first was in the 1950s, when the Marriage Law gave women their human rights for the first time, freeing them from the oppression of the feudal marriage system and strengthening their sense of marital autonomy. In particular, the first wave of divorce occurred in 1953, following the month of the campaign to implement the Marriage Law, with some six million couples divorcing between 1951 and 1956.

The second wave of singles occurred in the late 1970s, when a large number of intellectual youths returned to the cities. Many of those who had married and had children in the countryside were unable to transfer the household registration of their spouses and children to the cities and had to resort to divorce in order to return to the cities.

The third wave of singles emerged around the 1990s, when reform and opening up triggered a change in traditional family values and young people began to embrace the idea of freedom, leading to a significant increase in divorce rates.

Today, a fourth wave of singles is emerging, characterised by a marked increase in the number of people actively choosing to be single. There are many reasons for this, so I’ll take my time and tell you all about them.

More men, fewer women
On 11 May 2021, the results of China’s seventh national census were released, with men accounting for 51.24% of the population and women for 48.76%.

The reason for this cannot be separated from the long-standing phenomenon of China’s preference for males over females, which has led to a serious imbalance in China’s sex ratio. China is also one of the countries in the world with the most serious imbalance in the sex ratio at birth. The number of men in the marriageable age group exceeds the number of women in the marriageable age group. The marriage market, which was relatively stable and balanced, has been squeezed out by the huge difference in the number of men and women.

We all know that there are “leftover women”, but I am curious as to why there is no such thing as “leftover men” when this is clearly the age of “leftover men”. I’ll leave that question to you. I’m not saying I want the concept of the “leftover man” to be passed on to the rest of the world, but I would like to see no leftover men or women at all if I could, but why is “leftover woman” the only popular language?

The growing number of highly educated women

As I’ve said before, it seems to be harder for highly educated women to find compatible mates. Highly educated women tend to choose a partner with the same or higher education than themselves so that they have more in common. But men go reluctant to find a wife with a higher level of education than their own. It just doesn’t work out that way.

Women tend to choose a spouse who is older than them, men the opposite
According to the survey, around 80% of single men tend to find a partner younger than themselves, while among women, over 90% of single women say that their future partner must be older than themselves. As can be seen, women have a wider range of choices in choosing a partner than men. As a result, it is harder for men in the same age group to find a suitable mate choice, and girls are going for older men, even if the women they might fall for have not yet been born.
Economic pressure

The number of financially independent single women in first and second tier cities is increasing, and the financial requirements of women for their men are rising. One survey says that 80% of single women believe that RMB 5,000 is the starting point for a man’s monthly income. Of these, 67.06% of single women require a man to earn between $5,000 and $10,000, and 25.02% of single women require a man to earn more than $10,000. The five cities with the highest income requirements for men nationwide are Shenzhen, Beijing, Shanghai, Wuhan and Guangzhou.
In contrast, men’s income requirements for women are generally lower, with 80% of single men saying it is acceptable for their partner to earn less than 5,000.
Singles with an average monthly disposable income of more than RMB 8,000 are known as prime singles, and there are more single women than single men in this group.

Of course, beyond income there is the issue of a house and a car. The Chinese ideal is to have a car and a house before getting married, and houses in big cities are getting more and more expensive, so some people haven’t got a license yet because they haven’t saved enough money to buy a house or their careers haven’t reached a level where they can support their lives.

After all, in the world of adults, falling in love is not a meal, and love is not a drink of water. The so-called golden singles, who are living quite well on their own, do not necessarily need to fall in love, nor do they necessarily have the time to do so.

Work pressure
To earn more money you have to work well, and many higher paying jobs also mean that most of your time and energy has to be spent on work. When the only thing left in your life is a line between work and home, the chances of meeting love are very slim. When all your time is spent on work except for eating and sleeping, how can you find the time and energy to find someone and fall in love?

This is how the dating market is formed. It is not easy enough to meet someone you like naturally, and this has led to special dating agencies or apps.

View of marriage
Divorce is no longer taboo, but a chance to choose again for a new happiness. The simplification of divorce procedures has also made divorce easy and convenient. The increasing number of divorces is also gradually causing people to lose faith in marriage. The increase in divorce rates has objectively increased the number of single people.

Another trend is that due to economic and work pressures, people are becoming more and more materialistic in the marriage market, and the old-fashioned “right family” is coming back. I think one important reason is that modern society is more stratified. You have to like and see the right person, but you also have to be a good match in terms of class and have a common language, so there are more restrictions than before. This is why it is so difficult to find the right person.

The fragility of marriage is also linked to the increased mobility of society. You see, there are people from the countryside who come to work in the city, people who work in the city, people who change jobs, people who migrate to another country, people who are constantly exposed to different people and environments, and so on. People do not live in a closed space, but have many contacts. This mobility and diversity increases the opportunities for all kinds of contacts, so the vulnerability of marriage is increased compared to what it was before.

I still read this one on Baidu. Anyways, here’s what Baidu says: “With the involvement of the media and the increasing openness of society, homosexuality among women is gradually gaining public recognition. According to the survey, nearly 4% of women are single because of their “sexual orientation”, and the tendency of single women in Shanghai is as high as 4.75%, the highest in the country, although more and more women are no longer choosing heterosexual marriages against their will, and not many are successfully finding same-sex partners.”

So look forward to when Baidu can add a statistic about gay men and when China can open up completely and allow same-sex marriages. This might also help China to get rid of the wave of singles.

For all these reasons, many people are more cautious about marriage, considering whether the person is a womanizer, whether they have a future in their career, what their parents are like, whether they have a common language, whether they want to buy a house or a car, and so on. With so many factors, it sounds like it’s even harder than having a career. No wonder so many people are still single. If every single person in China gave me a dollar, I would be a billionaire. What a beautiful dream.

So…. I’ll go back to dreaming then, see you next time.

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