DATA FROM the National Bureau of Statistics and the Ministry of Civil Affairs show that the marriage rate, the ratio of the annual registered marriages to the total population, has been falling year-on-year, from 0.99 percent in 2013 to 0.77 percent in 2017, and further to 0.72 percent in 2018, a record low since 2013. Liu Yuanju, a researcher with the Shanghai Institute of Finance and Law, comments:
A declining marriage rate should first be attributed to the current age structure of China's population. With the change in its demographic structure and the aging of society, the proportion of people of marriageable age is on the decline, which will inevitably lead to a decrease in its general marriage rate.
Another reason for the declining marriage rate is people are getting married later. According to media reports, the age group of marriage registration in China has increased from 20 to 24 years old in 2013 to 25 to 29 years old, contributing to a declining marriage rate.
Given that the marriage rate is closely linked to a country's economic development, it is normal that China's marriage rate is getting lower and lower as its per capita GDP approaches $10,000 and will gradually reach the level of high-income countries. Economic development and urbanization both reduce young people's desire to get married.
A drastic rise in housing prices is also a major factor behind China's declining marriage rate. According to a report published by MyCOS on Chinese college students, the monthly income of college graduates was only 4,317 yuan ($676) in 2017, which was higher than the average monthly disposable income of 3,033 yuan for urban residents, but it was still far from enough to pay for a mortgage for a home in a city. Home-buying is viewed as necessary for young people before getting married. It is thus no surprise the country's less-developed regions have a higher marriage rate than the developed regions.
Therefore, a declining marriage rate in China is a normal result of China's economic development and urbanization. However, the government can still take practical measures to boost people's desire to get married, such as doing more to address the housing problem in cities.