Improved social services help increase birth rate

2021-03-25 12:08:11

A newborn baby. [Photo/IC] Ministry of Civil Affairs data show that 8.13 million couples registered for marriage in 2020, down 1.13 million from the previous year and the lowest in the past 17 years. The number prompted many on social networking sites to say, China is becoming a single's society. However, the drop in the number of marriages since 2013 has as much to do with a fall in the number of people in the 20-39 age, as with those delaying their marriage. According to a demographic survey in 2010, the median age at which men born between 1980 and 1984 marry is 1.9 years higher than that for those born between 1940 and 1944. For women, it is 3.3 years higher. The trend is more pronounced among those born between 1985 and 1990, making it clear that with increasing urbanization and economic development, the younger generations are choosing to marry late. There are several reasons for this. First, the younger generation pays more attention to education, and thus tends to marry at a later age. Those who seek a master's or a doctoral degree often choose to marry later than those who join the workforce after graduating from college. Besides, thanks to increasing gender equality, more women tend to focus on their career and therefore postpone their decision to marry. Second, the high costs of living, and raising a child combined with skyrocketing housing prices force many young people to delay marriage. For example, in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen, the four tier-one metropolises, the average age at which people marry the first time is 27.6 for men and 25.7 for women, both two years above the national average. Although it is unwise to label this social phenomenon as "good" or "bad", delayed marriages lead to lower birth rates. It is time to improve social services so that more people choose to marry at a younger age. -HANG SUHONG, A RESEARCHER IN SOCIOLOGY, CHINESE ACADEMY OF SOCIAL SCIENCES