China’s marriage rate drops to alarming level
Marriages in China have dropped to record levels and are deepening the population crisis facing the second-largest economy in the world.
Marriage registrations were recorded at 6.1 per cent to 7.6 million in China last year amid warnings that the economic consequences of an ageing population are beginning to emerge.
China registered 7.643 million new marriages in 2021, the first year since 2003 that the number has fallen below 8 million, Caixin Global reported citing the latest official data.
“The figure, an update to the 7.636 million released by the Ministry of Civil Affairs in March, was made public as Beijing struggles to boost a falling birth-rate to avert a looming demographic crisis. Officials and experts have warned that fewer marriages will lead to fewer births and further threaten economic growth,” the report added.
Joanna Davies, head of China economics at Fathom Consulting, said China’s “demographic dividend is over”, warning population shifts “will soon act as a constraint on, rather than a driver of, its growth”, Sydney Morning Herald (SMH) reported.
She said China’s deteriorating demographics can be explained by the one-child policy, some of the highest childcare costs in the world and net outward migration.
“There are challenges with pensions and funding care for the older population as the number of workers shrinks. And China’s demographic decline will make a difference to its global standing. It’s a huge market that companies and governments want to court,” said Mark Williams, chief Asia economist at Capital Economics.
Williams was quoted as saying by SMH that the demographic shift will also have an impact on its property market which generates a fifth of GDP and is in crisis after problems emerged at its indebted developers.
He warned the property market is facing “substantial falls in demand over the next decade in part because there are fewer young people looking to buy houses”, a major reason why many of the developers “are in trouble”. According to Davies, the abundance of Chinese labour has been key to its emergence as a global manufacturing powerhouse. “Birth rates are declining in most major economies, but the fall is particularly striking in China. How much of this is due to the one-child policy is unclear, as the trend appears to have begun sometime before the policy was introduced.”####
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