Chinese web users discuss hitches to getting married

Two couples Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The institution of marriage is losing its popularity in China

Chinese social media users have been expressing doubts about the institution of marriage, prompted by a post on a popular Sina Weibo account about a New York Times report saying Chinese people were increasingly disinclined to get hitched.

This is because of better education, "but also because they have good incomes and have lost the economic incentive to marry", the post on "Sina Liaoning" declared on 17 September.

Many users agree, and have set out why they no longer believe in marriage.

'Not the be-all-and-end-all'

The post led tens of thousands of social media users to the #ChinesePeopleUnwillingToGetMarried hashtag to express a view.

While some say they would still like to get married one day, many users think the institution is not as relevant as it once was.

Image copyright Weibo
Image caption Hashtag #ChinesePeopleUnwillingToGetMarried was trending on Weibo

"Gan Zhaoji" says she has other aspirations. "If I was admitted to a graduate school then I would be pursuing my dreams, but marriage is not a necessity. But how do I say that I don't want to get married, but do want a child?"

"LostCici" agrees, saying she doesn't want to succumb to social pressures. "I don't want to get married because others tell me to get married; I don't want to have a baby because others tell me to have a baby."

A male user, "Yang Tingting", says "the cost of marriage nowadays is too high; people would rather live a different life."

Many agree that there is a stigma attached to not getting wed; either from partners or parents.

"Lin Maomao" says: "I think it is quite a strange phenomenon: some men do not want to hear a woman say she does not want to get married."

"Zhao Qingji" says: "If there were no social factors, I would not want to get married. My feeling is that it is not the be-all-and-end-all."

What's changed?

An ageing population and the now-scrapped one-child policy have led to a huge age and gender gap in Chinese society, meaning that many men are simply unable to find a partner.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Huge age and gender gap in China have led to many men not being able to find a partner

And the poorest often lose out, given that when a couple marries, it has been tradition for the husband to buy a home for his bride. Seventy per cent of women see having an apartment "as a prerequisite for men to ask for marriage", a 2012 study found.

There are also changing attitudes among young women, especially those wanting to pursue higher education and rise through the ranks in business, rather than be seen as financially dependent on a partner.

Many have also defied their parents' expectations, and have sought out a partner solely for love.

Divorce rates in China are also higher than ever before. China Daily says the divorce rate peaked at 6 per cent in July, with 3.84 million couples divorcing within a year.

The "Sina Liaoning" account posted an online poll in which Weibo users were asked if they did still want to marry, why that might be.

Some 40% of the 20,000 users who took part said they would marry for love. The rest pointed to external factors. Some 7% said it was because their "families pressed it on them", and 6% said they were "afraid of being alone".

Others said they would get married to prove that they "weren't weird or different".  

BBC Monitoring reports and analyses news from TV, radio, web and print media around the world. You can follow BBC Monitoring on Twitter and Facebook.

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