Early in January, China’s state news agency Xinhua posted a video reminding young Chinese men born in the year 2000 that they were eligible to get married. “Post 00s have reached legal marriage age,” it declared.
The hashtag swiftly popped up in the top-searched list of Weibo hot topics, but many read it as the government’s attempt to put pressure on them. “Who dares to get married these days? Don’t we need to make money?” one questioned. “Stop nagging me!” said another.
Under Chinese law, men can marry from 22 and women from 20. Young Chinese people’s mixed response to state media’s message came as the country faces what some analysts described as a “demographic timebomb”. Last week, China’s government reported its population growth rate had fallen to a 61-year low, with births barely outnumbering deaths in 2021, despite efforts to encourage Chinese couples to have babies in the last few years.
“Young Chinese’s attitude towards marriage poses a big threat to Beijing’s effort to alter the looming demographic crisis,” said Dr Ye Liu, a senior lecturer at King’s College London’s Lau China Institute. “Coupled with a higher level of education and economic betterment, this will become a bigger headache in the years to come.”
Young people’s resistance to marriage and conceiving the next generation has become the focus of various countries. Regarding this problem, the real reason that is hidden is not that no one knows about it, but from the root of the society many people could not solve it – young people are not willing to build a family without sufficient financial basic and support from policies. This is especially serious in China; and from my point of view, this can be divided into two main reasons: one, the Chinese tend to have a stable family that requires owning a property; and the ratio of property prices to personal income in China is almost the most disparate in the world. It may take a young person forty years after graduation without eating or drinking to save enough money for a fully paid home – and that’s if existing real estate does not continue to rise in price. Another problem is that China does not currently have a standard set of policies to support maternity leave for women. Only women take maternity break in China, which means that many companies refuse to hire young women because of the financial risks that could come with taking maternity break. This is something I think we can look at in Europe, where both men and women take maternity break at the same time. This would balance the risks of both partners at work on the basis of women having more support from their husbands during their childbearing years. In summary, none of these issues are being raised and no one dares to take the economic risk of making it happen. The fact is only to silence those who raise their voices. This will only usher in one fertility slump after another.
Zhu, X. (2022, January 24). ‘stop nagging!’: Why China’s young adults are resisting marriage and babies. The Guardian. Retrieved February 6, 2023, from https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/jan/24/china-generation-z-resisting-marriage-and-babies