China has had a persistently high sex ratio at birth (more males than females) for around 40 years. This gender imbalance has led to over 30 million Chinese men being unable to find wives, according to Professor Yuan Xin of Nankai University. By 2021, there were around 239 million single people aged over 15 in China, but Yuan says 15 is too young to define “single” and the real number is lower. However, the decades-long gender imbalance has created many “passive singles” – men who cannot find wives due to the shortage of women. From 1980-2021 around 35 million more males were born than females. This means at least 30 million men will not be able to marry locally. The competition for marriage is increasing, with rises in bride prices and marriage costs. The stability of marriages may also decline. Young single men may cause social instability and older single men will lack family support. Restoring a normal sex ratio at birth is very difficult now. The gender imbalance will persist throughout life cycles, so a coordinated national response is needed. It is inaccurate to say singles have higher spending power – they may just meet basic needs and not stimulate consumption. If desire is universally low, consumption will not rise. In summary, China’s long-term gender imbalance has created many involuntary single men, posing economic and social challenges that require an active policy response.
Source: Central News Agency (Taiwan), September 11, 2023