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Marriages in China plunge to record low as population pressure mounts

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BEIJING — New marriages in China plunged to their lowest level on record last year, a sign of changing demographic trends as people age and delay plans to start a family.

Some 7.6 million marriages were registered in 2021, according to figures recently released by the Ministry of Civil Affairs. This is the lowest dating back to 1985, the first year for which the National Bureau of Statistics published records.

The crude marriage rate – or the number of marriages per 1,000 people – fell to 5.4, also a new low and nearly halving from a decade ago.

China’s economy faces pressure as people age and births fall, with a central bank adviser warning in March that the population is likely to peak this year.

According to United Nations projections.

Declining marriages – along with a plummeting birth rate – are likely attributable to a shrinking youth population. This is partly the result of China’s one-child policy, which lasted from the 1980s to 2016.

The number of residents between the ages of 20 and 50 fell to 597 million in 2020 from 674 million a decade ago, according to census data.

Many people are also delaying plans for marriage and children, in line with trends elsewhere in the world, as the cost of raising a child rises and the pandemic presents continued uncertainty, among other reasons.

The average age of women marrying for the first time in Jiangsu province, for example, has risen to nearly 30 in 2020, from 23.8 in 2010. BLOOMBERG