More Chinese tie the knot in 2023, lifting marriage rates for first time in nine years

By Reuters   March 18, 2024 | 03:25 pm PT
More Chinese tie the knot in 2023, lifting marriage rates for first time in nine years
An engaged Chinese couple strike a pose for their wedding photographs at a studio in central Beijing November 27, 2009. Photo by Reuters
The number of new marriages in China jumped 12.4% in 2023 from a year earlier, reversing a downtrend that has lasted for almost a decade as more youth tied the knot after delaying their nuptials due to the Covid pandemic.

The number of newlyweds rose to 7.68 million last year, according to data released by the Ministry of Civil Affairs last week. This was up 845,000 couples from 2022 but still far below the peak of 13.47 million couples hit in 2013.

The data comes after China's Premier Li Qiang pledged in March that the government would work towards "a birth-friendly society and promote long term, balanced population development", as well as reducing the cost of childbirth, parenting and education.

Policymakers are grappling with how to reverse a declining population, where the birthrate is falling and society ageing rapidly. Roughly 300 million Chinese are expected to enter retirement in the coming decade - the equivalent of almost the entire U.S. population.

China's population fell for a second consecutive year in 2023, as the record low birth rate and deaths due to COVID-19 accelerated a downturn that officials fear will have profound long-term effects on the economy's growth potential.

Marriage rates are closely tied to birth rates, giving some cheer to policymakers, as an uptick in marriages could yield more babies and soften the population decline in 2024.

More babies are being born in hospitals across China in the Year of the Dragon, which began on Feb. 10, financial news outlet Yicai recently reported , with the Dragon Chinese zodiac sign believed to be particularly auspicious.

Many young people, however, are opting to stay single or put off getting married due to poor job prospects, record youth unemployment and chronically low consumer confidence as growth in the world's second largest economy slows.

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