Shanghai newlyweds’ average age keeps rising

BEIJING (China Daily/ANN) - Education, stress and high cost of marriage all contribute to the trend.

At 27, Shi Fan, a copywriter at a Shanghai company that helps clients with overseas study, said marriage was a concern too far for her to consider for the moment.

“Getting married means being responsible for a family and being in a position to raise a kid,” said Shi, who graduated from Monash University in Australia. “I’m not ready for it.”

Shi said she plans to get married between the ages of 30 and 35. Before that, she wants to enjoy being single, which makes her feel “free and unrestrained”.

Shi speaks for a large number of young Shanghai residents, who are increasingly reluctant to tie the knot at the same age most of their parents’ generation did, usually in their mid-20s.

Their preference for marrying later has contributed to the upward curve in the average age for first marriages in the city as well as a falling marriage rate, which was the country’s lowest in 2018.

The average marriage age for Shanghai residents has been increasing since 2010, standing last year at age 30 for men and 28 for women, according to a report released by the Chinese Communist Youth League Shanghai Committee on Aug 7. Nearly a quarter of the interviewees-the largest single group-considered 30 as the golden age to get married.

The report said the average age at which men and women married for the first time was 28 and 26, respectively, in 2010. It was based on responses from 4,902 questionnaires.

Meanwhile, Shanghai registered the country’s lowest marriage rate-0.435 for every 100 people in 2018-compared with the nation’s average of 0.72 per cent that year, which is also the lowest in the past decade, according to the Ministry of Civil Affairs.

“It is a global trend that the average age for a first marriage is correlated with an area’s development. The more developed an area is, the higher the average age or first marriage,” said Xue Yali, an associate professor at the Family Study Centre of Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences.

Similar trends, such as in birth-rates, also were reflected nationwide as more developed cities and provinces such as Zhejiang province (0.59 per cent) registered lower birth-rates than those less developed, such as Guizhou province (1.11 per cent).

“Rising education levels, increasing workloads and stress, fierce societal competition, the influence on careers of having a baby and the high cost of marriage all contribute to the growing trend of late marriage,” Xue said.

A growing number of people also choose to completely opt out of marriage.

According to the recent Shanghai report, 9.21 per cent of the 4,902 single respondents indicated that they did not want to get married at all, which means nearly one in 10 said they planned to stay single.

The traditional value placed on marriage and family remains a strong influence on the young generation, however, the report said.

About 66.63 per cent of respondents said that they want to be in a relationship while 62.33 per cent said they felt that way because their parents want them to get married.

Shi is in the majority who still believe in marriage.

“I still want to get married when I’m ready, because having someone to support, understand and stay with me is important. After all, people are social animals,” she said.

The report also said that the top three traits that respondents looked for in a partner were appearance, character and similarity of beliefs. In addition, about 21.76 per cent of young people prioritised personality and temperament as opposed to traditional factors such as income, age and educational background.

“A similar educational background is important to me since it would result in something in common to talk about and a similar attitude toward life,” Shi said.

Zhou Wenting contributed to this story.

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