Singles’ Day – the Chinese opposite of Valentines that’s turned into a massive online shopping event – has been all over the news. It’s a day when single people are supposed to buy themselves presents, or get them from their coupled-up friends. But there are sinister sociological reasons at play behind China’s ‘celebration’ of single life. And the imbalance could have big consequences for the country.
There were 34 million more men than women in China in 2011. Part of that is natural – usually there are 105 boys born for every 100 girls. But the Chinese gender ratio at birth is much more stark. It was 116 boys to 100 girls in 2012.The one child policy is largely to blame. Brought in to curb population expansion, the policy allowed only one child per family.
But because male children are seen as more valuable, as well as more likely to support their parents in old age, some parents chose to have a son over a daughter. The result? Large numbers of surplus men who will likely never get married. In fact, one study has predicted that by 2030, 1 in 5 Chinese men in their 30s will never have married , while another states that 94% of unmarried people in China are men.
Some parents are trying to find partners for their sons at physical markets,where people post personal ads detailing their characteristics, as well as their work and educational achievements. Traditionally China has seen high levels of marriage, usually among the young, but measures brought in by the government, as well as increased education and career opportunities for women have meant marriages are happening later.
It’s also traditional that women marry up – meaning they marry men from a higher socioeconomic bracket than themselves. So women at the top and men at the bottom find themselves alone. That’s a big problem in a society that still focuses on family life as the ideal. One study has even suggested a link between an imbalanced sex ratio and growth in violent crime in the country.
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There’s a huge number of young, single Chinese people and Chinese businesses have tackled that market aggressively. But Singles Day can’t solve all the problems China’s singles face. Indeed, it’s possible it’s causing even more problems, as men resort to increasingly risky lines of work to increase their chances of gaining mon.
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