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Marriage rate falls while divorce soars – China’s latest society and culture news


New data released by China’s Ministry of Civil Affairs shows that fewer Chinese are getting married while more couples have split up. Since 2014, the number of newly registered marriages has dropped (in Chinese) for three years in a row, with only 11.3 million people choosing to marry in 2016, a 7.5 percent reduction from the previous year. Meanwhile, China’s divorce rate has been on the rise for 14 years, skyrocketing from 1.3 million in 2003 to 4.8 million last year, among which couples born in the 1980s were in the majority.

The decline of the country’s marriage rate is accompanied by a rise in the age of marriage, which is partly due to the fact that more and more young people have received a higher education and are less willing to get married in their early twenties. In addition, as young people from third- or fourth-tier cities flood into major metropolises where life pressure, both financially and mentally, is much higher, they tend to delay marriage when they are uncertain about their future. Among divorced couples in 2016, young couples were in the majority, and, according to an article by Caijing (in Chinese), are inclined to end their marriages without much deliberate consideration.

On the social media platform Weibo, some commenters reflected on young people’s shifting attitude toward marriage. “In the old days, when something was broken, people would find various ways to repair it. But now, they are looking for something new even though what they have is still working,” one person wrote (in Chinese).


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Jiayun Feng

Jiayun was born in Shanghai, where she spent her first 20 years and earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism at Fudan University. Interested in writing for a global audience, she attended the NYU Graduate School of Journalism for its Global & Joint Program Studies, which allowed her to pursue a journalism career along with her interest in international relations. She has previously interned for Sixth Tone and Shanghai Daily.