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In China, affluent individuals find themselves grappling with the prohibitive costs of marriage amidst a decelerating economy.

In China, affluent individuals find themselves grappling with the prohibitive costs of marriage amidst a decelerating economy.

Victor Li, a determined 32-year-old Shanghai businessman, shares the sentiment prevalent among many young Chinese facing economic uncertainties. 

The prospect of marriage appears daunting, particularly in bustling metropolises like Shanghai. Li, speaking at a networking event for accomplished graduates, remarked on the financial strain on the younger demographic, acknowledging the pervasive pressure it imposes.

As the world's second-largest economy experiences a slowdown, a rising number of individuals opt for a single lifestyle, citing bleak job prospects, escalating youth unemployment, and persistently low consumer confidence. This has resulted in a remarkable decline in marriage registrations in 2022.

This hesitancy towards matrimony raises concerns for policymakers, grappling with diminishing birth rates and an accelerating aging population in a nation once renowned for its status as the most populous globally. China's marriage rates have traditionally correlated with birth rates, and unmarried mothers often encounter challenges in raising children.

The country's fertility rate currently ranks among the lowest globally, and forthcoming official data is expected to reveal a population decline for the second consecutive year, intensifying concerns about demographic deterioration.

In 2023, President Xi Jinping emphasized the imperative to "nurture a fresh culture of marriage and child-rearing" to spur national development. Local governments have responded with diverse initiatives to incentivize new families, encompassing tax reductions, housing subsidies, and cash incentives for marriages involving brides aged 25 or younger.

Julia Meng, whose company organized the Shanghai event, noted a growing trend among those aged 35 and above choosing to forgo marriage. Younger participants like Jack Jiang express a desire for marriage but grapple with exorbitant housing prices, job uncertainties, and an overall challenging economic climate. Jiang attributes the phenomenon to the urban structure, emphasizing that it's the economic milieu that has led to this outcome.

If so, what does the decelerating economy have to do with reluctance to marry? This is what we will discuss in the next article.

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