Growing Gender Imbalance in China Spawns People Markets

People looking for a marriage bargain in Qingyang, a coal-mining settlement in Gansu province. Foto: Composition by NTD television.
Looking for love in Qingyang, a coal-mining town in Gansu Province. (Image: NTDTV)

Decades of China’s one-child policy have led to a significant gender imbalance in China. Consequently, single men often have a difficult time finding a wife. One recent outgrowth of this trend is community “people markets” where a man can seek out a wife. One such market operates in Qingyang, a coal mining town in Gansu Province.

According to the Chinese Mainland Media Report, the matchmaking business is booming in Qingyang.  Whenever there is a gathering in the market, the matchmakers have the woman’s personal data at the ready for a qualified single man. Locals classified women who want to marry as “sellers,” and the men who must pay a dowry to the women’s families as “buyers.” The matchmaker is a go-between who collects a service fee for the transaction.

Decades of China's one-child policy has led to a significant gender imbalance in China. (Image: pixabay / CC0 1.0)

Decades of China’s one-child policy have led to a significant gender imbalance in China. (Image: pixabay / CC0 1.0)

To earn an acceptable dowry, young men often have to leave the village to find work elsewhere. Lu Feifei started dating five years ago and has dated more than 10 women, but none were suitable. This year, he left the village to work and saved some $3,000. However, the average dowry has gone up to $25,000. He will have to continue to work away from his village to earn enough to pay for a wife.

Even if the date is not successful, the man still has to spend money. When dating, a man has to give the woman around $30 as “embarrassment money,” in addition to renting a car and buying gifts.

Matchmaker Li Haijun said that in recent years, the marriage market has very much become a seller’s market, with some girls seeing more than 30 men in a single day. One man has been trying to find a wife for 7 years without success in a market where women can pick and choose. Relaying his experiences, Yang Ruiqing said:

The gender imbalance in China is the result of the Chinese government forcibly enforcing family planning policies. After more than 50 years of its one-child policy, the gender imbalance in China is one of the largest in the world. According to official statistics, China’s population stood at 1.36 billion at the end of last year, of which 700 million were men and 667 million were women, leaving an imbalance of some 33 million more men than women. China’s one-child policy has left many young men in the cold when it comes to relationships.

The marriage market is very much a seller's market with some girls seeing more than 30 men in a single day. (Image: pixabay / CC0 1.0)

The marriage market is very much a seller’s market, with some girls seeing more than 30 men in a single day. (Image: pixabay / CC0 1.0)

The heavy imbalance between the male and female populations has also triggered a series of social problems. It is widely reported that the gender imbalance has resulted in extramarital affairs, children born out of wedlock, homosexuality, sexually transmitted diseases, sexual criminal offenses, and other social phenomena endangering public health.

Translated by Chua, B.C. and edited by Aizhu Lu

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