Marriages in China slump to historic low

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Marriages in China dropped in 2022 to their lowest since records began, local news outlet Yicai reported on Sunday, continuing a steady decline over the past decade although the matrimonial total may have been affected by stringent COVID lockdowns. Just 6.83 million couples completed their marriage registrations last year, data published on the website of the Ministry of Civil Affairs showed, down about 800,000 from the previous year.

The drop in couples tieing the knot, which follows pandemic restrictions keeping tens of millions locked in their homes or compounds for weeks last year, comes as authorities deal with a declining birth rate and a falling population. In 2022 China’s population fell for the first time in six decades, a decline that is expected to mark the start of a long period of decline in its citizen numbers with profound implications for its economy and the world.

China’s birth rate fell last year to 6.77 births per 1,000 people, the lowest on record, from 7.52 in 2021. Demographers warn China will get old before it gets rich, as its workforce shrinks and indebted local governments spend more on their elderly population.

To encourage marriage and boost the country’s flagging birthrate, China said last month it would launch pilot projects in more than 20 cities to create a “new-era” marriage and childbearing culture. Some provinces are also giving young newlyweds an extension of paid marriage leave.