'80s generation delaying marriage in Shanghai

By Zhou Wenting in Shanghai | China Daily | Updated: 2017-06-07 07:38

Reason not fully known, but survey says cohabitation may play a role

More people born between 1980 and 1989 are remaining single compared with the decade before, a survey released on Tuesday found.

Nearly 1 in 5 men and 1 in 8 women in the age group have never married, according to the Fudan Yangtze River Delta Social Transformation Survey. Back in 2005, official figures showed that the ratio of men and women between 30 and 34 who remained unmarried was 12 percent and 7 percent.

"This is the most relevant data we could find to show a generally growing trend, although the age brackets differ," said Shen Ke, associate professor at Fudan University's School of Social Development and Public Policy and a leader of the survey.

"We cannot draw a conclusion whether some in the age bracket are just postponing getting married or have given up on marriage. We also wonder whether the ratio of people who remain single will continue to rise, as in other Asian countries, such as Japan and South Korea," she said.

Peng Xizhe, a professor at the school and the lead researcher for the project, said the team will try to find answers through follow-ups.

Cohabitation contributes to the fact that a growing number of people remain single, according to the survey, in which 40 percent of the respondents said they cohabited before getting married. Cohabitation used to be taboo in China, where many have a traditional conservative attitude toward sex.

"For many, cohabitation is not a substitute for marriage but a taste of married life to see whether they enjoy it or not. About 60 percent of the survey respondents cohabited for up to half a year, and some broke up," Shen said.

Fudan's Center for Population and Development Policy Studies and the Research Center for Dataology and Data Science at the university followed 1,200 Shanghai residents born during the 1980s and their families over the past eight years for the survey, which aims to lay a foundation for future public policy.

People born in the 1980s have received significant attention in social research after China's family planning policy, which allowed a couple to have only one child in most cases, was adopted in early 1980s.

Although people in this age group express a desire for more than one child, only 13 percent of those who already had a child said they were looking forward to having another, according to the survey. The high cost of raising children tops the reasons for giving up plans for a bigger family.

(China Daily 06/07/2017 page5)

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