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Socioeconomic Factors Behind the Decline in Marriage and Divorce Rates in China

An article circulated on Internet talked about how poor economic conditions in China have caused Chinese people to “freeze” (i.e. to not to make major life-style changes or life-changing decisions).

In the first quarter of this year, the number of marriage registrations nationwide was 1.969 million pairs, a decrease of 178,000 pairs from the same period in 2023. Meanwhile, the divorce registrations also decreased from 641,000 pairs in the same period last year to 573,000 pairs, a reduction of 68,000 pairs

What has caused the decline in both marriage and divorce rates? According to the article, the reason is the decline in people’s income and assets. In China, the most crucial hurdle preceding marriage is the purchase of an apartment. Usually, the three families (the young couple and both of their parents) pool their savings together to buy the “marriage” apartment. However, nowadays, despite government policies heavily incentivizing house sales (aiming to stimulate the stagnant Chinese housing market), people are not buying houses or apartment units (being afraid that the price will fall later).

As far as divorce is concerned, the issue of how to divide assets is pertinent. Here, too the sluggish housing market is at play; couples are unable to sell their houses at high prices, meaning that dividing up the couple’s assets for a divorce is difficult.

According to the article, the root cause of the “freeze” in social activity among Chinese people is the socioeconomic impact of a sluggish Chinese economy. This pertains to employees in various sectors of the economy:

  • Government Sector Employees: Central and state agencies are carrying out uniform 5 percent reductions in staffing.
  • Private Sector Employment: The Internet, semiconductor, and advanced manufacturing industries are all under pressure. Jobs at high-tech companies, which used to be good for job-hopping, are becoming less secure. The electric vehicle industry may seem promising, but in reality many EV companies face financial trouble; fierce competition makes EV companies lose money. Chinese industrial transformation, the impact of AI, and oversupply of talent will all have long-term impacts.
  • Finance Sector: the industry is experiencing widespread salary cuts.

Source: China News, June 29, 2024