China’s Marriage Rate Declines as Dating Grows

China’s marriage rate has seen a dramatic decline over the past 10 years, but its vibrant dating scene seems to be livelier than ever. Chinese society is shifting to create more opportunities for young people who are not interested in settling down. 

A new feature from Al Jazeera highlights that approximately 13.5 million couples got married in China in 2013, but that number dropped to 6.8 million in 2022. This coincides with other data suggesting higher divorce rates, more single people, and marriages occurring at increasingly older ages.

There are two important parts to this trend. First, the disinterest in marriage. Second, the rise of new kinds of dating and other opportunities for singles.

Young Chinese people told Al Jazeera that marriage doesn’t appeal to them. For some, the financial cost of settling down isn’t worth giving up the ability to travel and enjoy life. For some women, the societal expectation to become a traditional housewife doesn’t appeal. 

Youth unemployment also hit a record high of 21.3% in June 2023, something that adds additional stress to young people and makes marriage a lower priority.

This decline in marriage rate comes as dating and single life grows in popularity. “Marriage used to be the centrepiece of life but now it no longer has to be,” Mu Zheng, an assistant professor at the National University of Singapore, told Al Jazeera.

Zheng highlights that the dating scene in China is diverse, with people choosing to date beyond just the desire for a marriage partner. One young woman told Al Jazeera “ever since the [COVID] lockdowns ended, I have mostly dated to meet new people that have hobbies and interests very different from mine”.

And this can take place in a variety of ways, through friends, through social media, through dating apps, through matchmaking support, and more.

Dating casually is also made easier as Chinese society increasingly caters to single people. A new ‘singles economy’ has emerged where household appliances, travel packages, and entertainment options are being created for this growing community of unmarried individuals.

China is set to be a market full of potential for dating platforms. As young Chinese people embrace personal choice and break free from traditional expectations, they’ll be hungry to explore the diverse world of online dating platforms which can cater to any need.

You can read Al Jazeera’s full report on marriage and dating in China here.

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